09/25/2009

To keep members informed, AMO provides updates on important issues considered at regular AMO Board of Directors’ meetings. Highlights of the September 2009 Board meeting follow:
H1N1 and Influenza Season Update

The Board received an update from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care on the emergence of H1N1 and other influenza strains and their likely impact on this year’s flu season. Prevention plans were described including immunization and antivirals and the role of public health units and local pharmacies in addressing outbreaks of H1N1 in communities.

Recommendations on Provincial Review of Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy

The Board approved two recommendations for submission to the Long Term Affordable Housing Strategy. To shift from prescriptive legislation to the kind of permissive legislation required to support the consolidation of about 28 housing and homelessness programs into a single, outcomes-based housing program, the Act will need to be changed. The Board recommended legislative amendments required to support the consolidation of all programs consistent with the report of the PMFSDR and to vest AMO and the City of Toronto with the responsibility of appointing municipal/DSSAB representatives to the Social Housing Services Corporation Board of Directors.

Response to Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) Built Environment Standard

The Board endorsed seven recommendations to be submitted to the public review on the initial draft Built Environment Standard. The recommendations and key issues were provided to the members in an Alert issued September 28, 2009.

AMO’s Federal Gas Tax Fund and Public Transit Fund Outcomes Report

Board approved public release of the AMO Gas Tax Fund & Public Transit Fund Outcomes Report which demonstrates that investments in environmentally sustainable municipal infrastructure have led to cleaner water, cleaner air, and reduced Greenhouse gas emissions. The report demonstrates that municipalities have leveraged this long-term, predictable funding source to invest in local priorities that contribute to these environmental objectives while improving community sustainability. The complete report can be found on a new interactive website titled Gas Tax at Work at www.gastaxatwork.ca.

Bill 186, Violence and Harassment in the Workplace

The Board received an update on Bill 168, an amendment to the Occupational Health and Safety Act regarding new requirements for employers on violence and harassment. A recommendation was passed that AMO support the goals and policies of the Bill but recommends changing the implementation process to one year from six months. AMO will also ask for clarification on a number of matters including expectations for work refusal and prevention of domestic violence in the workplace.

SLAPP (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation)

The Board received resolutions regarding SLAPP from the City of Mississauga, City of Hamilton and 62 other municipalities.  SLAPPs or assigning costs at OMB hearings to citizens is a tactic, which often leads to a “chill effect” that discourages citizens’ participation in local decision making. The National Assembly of Quebec has passed a change to their Code of Civil Procedures to prevent such cases. The Board resolved that AMO staff meet with staff in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing in order to develop solutions to prevent SLAPPs and to avoid undue costs placed on citizens in OMB hearings to protect those with legitimate concerns.

Giant Hogweed – Weed Control Act

The Board received resolutions from the Township of Huron-Kinloss and twenty other municipalities asking the Province that Giant Hogweed be added to the Weed Control Act to help prevent the spread of this toxic, non-native plant. The Board resolved that AMO write to the relevant ministries asking them to work collaboratively to develop a strategy on Giant Hogweed that would aim towards province-wide elimination of the species, using public education, effective control strategies and adequate municipal authority.

Proposed Medical Officer of Health and Associate Medical Officer of Health Compensation

The Board was advised that Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care (MOHLTC) is offering 100% incremental funding of salary and benefits for Medical Officers of Health on top of current board of health compensation in order to move Medical Officers’ of Health and Associate Medical Officers’ of Health compensation into the ranges specified in the 2008 OMA Physician Services Agreement.

Energy Issues Update

The Board received an update on the Regulations and other recent decisions related to the Green Energy and Green Economy Act, 2009. The Ontario Government listened to AMO and amended the regulations to accommodate municipal concerns. The amendments ensure municipalities are consulted prior to the government approving applications, stringent setbacks are in place for certain projects, and municipalities will be compensated for increased costs. The five of the recently announced Ten Steps to Green Energy that are pertinent to municipalities are the transmission upgrades, feed-in tariff program, renewable energy approval, the creation of the renewable energy facilitation office, and the municipal renewable energy compensation program. More details about these initiatives are in AMO Alert 09/066 from September 28. AMO will continue to evaluate pertinent regulations as they are developed and will bring recommendations forward.