03/30/2012

To keep members informed, AMO provides updates on important issues considered at regular AMO Board of Directors’ meetings. Highlights on the March 30, 2012 Board meeting.

Feed In-Tariff Review Recommendations
Deputy Minister of the Ontario Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (OMAFRA), Fareed Amin, the provincial lead on the on the Feed-In Tariff Program Two Year Review presented the review’s recommendations, which touched on six strategic areas, including: the province’s continued commitment to clean energy, streamlining processes and creating jobs, encouraging greater community and Aboriginal participation, improving municipal engagement, reducing FIT prices to reflect lower technology costs and expanding Ontario’s clean energy economy. The role of municipal governments and improved consultation was discussed. The Ontario Power Authority is to post the draft microFit and FIT rules soon for public review and comment.

Socially and Environmentally Responsible Aggregate (SERA)
SERA is a third-party, voluntary certification system for the aggregate sector and representatives made a presentation about its services for providing third party verification against standards. SERA is looking to engage with municipalities and other markets to encourage their interest for responsibly sourced aggregate materials in procurement activities. The Board had an opportunity to advance its interests.

Update from Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC)
Dan Mathieson Chair, and Mayor of Stratford and Antoni Wisniowski, President shared its 2012 Strategic Priorities as well as an update on the 2012 assessment process. The parties discussed matters related to new development assessment timelines, remuneration lists and some of the trends and impacts of re-assessments and the appeals process. 

Provincial Budget Overview
Board was provided an overview of the Provincial budget that affects municipal governments directly in terms of their roles and responsibilities, noting that other budget actions that will affect some specific communities because of changes to other sectors, such as education. The Board was particularly interested in the proposed pension plan changes that would see benefits reduced rather than ever-increasing contribution rates to solve the deficit problems in most public pension plans. 

Bill 8 – The Ontario One Call ActKey elements of Private Members Bill 8 - Ontario One Call Act, were considered and Board directed AMO to prepare a submission for the Standing Committee. The Bill would move from a voluntary participation to a mandatory one where municipal governments would be required to be paying members of a joint public and private sector Board. The Bill would change the way that the public and contractors contact municipalities to request the location of underground infrastructure, while leaving municipal operations once a request is received essentially unchanged. A five-day mandatory turn around to fulfill requests is also included. The Bill does not take into account current circumstances in northern Ontario. 

Update on Municipal Waste Issues
The Board received an update on various municipal waste issues including a recent meeting with the Minister of Environment on Waste Management Extended Producer Responsibility, Blue Box Funding and Municipal Hazardous + Special Waste (MHSW) issues. The Board was also updated on the MHSW Incentive Program review, AMO Blue Box Consultation, Continuous Improvement Fund (CIF) consultation and upcoming CAO forum. AMO wants to ensure that it obtains timely current input and the Board approved new terms of reference and appointments for the AMO Waste Management Task Force and Joint AMO/MWA Technical Advisory Group on Waste.

Response to Social Assistance CommissionersA submission responding to the second round of Social Assistance Review discussions was approved by the Board. This builds on AMO’s initial submission, which can be found on our website. The Commission’s work has been referenced by the Drummond Commission and in the Provincial Budget documents and we expect it will form part of the ‘transformational’ activities related to human services and further integration. AMO has advised the province that this is a significant matter and we must be involved in any policy development given the anticipated implementation impacts. 


Provincial Offenses Act and Joint & Several Liability Updates
The Ministry of Transportation has established a committee to explore ways to improve the collection of POA fines and meetings have occurred and AMO remains hopeful that a solution will be available later this year. Additionally, AMO met with representatives from the Ministries of the Attorney General and Municipal Affairs and Housing on the need for reform on Joint and Several Liability. Both parties will conduct further research on some specific issues and have agreed to meet again at a future date. 

Legislative Update
Staff provided an overview of the current government and Private Member bills as introduced in the Ontario Legislature that have a municipal interest. The status of all bills is available on our website in the Policy Issues section. As an observation, few MPPs reach out to AMO to discuss their Private Members bills before they are introduced, which means the proposed legislation can create consequences for municipal responsibilities and create unfunded mandates. AMO’s weekly WatchFile will highlight these from time to time.