08/14/2014

AMO and its members are asking the Province to defer cuts to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund and hold funding at the 2014 level of $550 million.
This funding is critical, given all the other unanticipated provincial costs municipal governments are currently managing, such as increased wages for emergency services.

The 2014 Provincial Budget, re-released July 14th, accelerates cuts to the OMPF, reducing it by $35 million in 2015 − $10 million more than expected.
 
Total OMPF funding is decreasing as part of the 2008 upload of social service and court costs. However, AMO was surprised and disappointed with the accelerated cuts, which impact municipalities that can least afford it. These same municipalities have also received the least benefit from the upload of social service costs.

In July 2014, AMO recommended that the Ministry of Finance complete a comprehensive review of the fiscal impact of the 2014 budget and other impending decisions on rural and northern Ontario communities.

Our main concern is that the cumulative impact of various initiatives – such as OMPF cuts and changes to the OPP Billing model − has not been fully understood or considered by the government.  AMO contends that any reductions by the Province should be mindful of other provincial initiatives that are affecting these same financially-challenged municipalities. The OMPF has gone from $598 million in 2012, to $575 million in 2013, and is $550 million in 2014.  Unless there is a provincial policy change, as requested, total allocations to recipient municipalities will continue to decline in 2015 and 2016.  The Fund will total $500 million by 2016.

For 2013, the Ministry of Finance merged the OMPF’s five individual grant components (social programs, equalization, northern and rural communities, police service, and transition assistance) into a single municipal allocation. The Ministry also introduced a new funding concept to measure the relative fiscal circumstances of municipalities. A Municipal Fiscal Circumstances Index (MFCI) measures factors such as weighted assessment per household, median household income and employment rates, among others, on a relative basis for municipalities that have been receiving OMPF.

AMO has continued to call on the Province to defer the 2015 OMPF cut and restore reconciliation payments for 2011 and 2012.