Budget and Work Plan for 2014-15:  The Board approved its budget and work plan.  President Gary McNamara and Secretary-Treasurer, Elizabeth Savill noted that the Board will be busy addressing a wide range of policy development as input to the over 30 provincial priority initiatives contained in Ministers’ mandate letters.  In addition, there are corporate initiatives, such as the councillor training sessions and new on-line training modules and changes to the reporting system to implement the permanent AMO - Canada Gas Tax Agreement.  The President will be sending members of councils more information on the Board’s strategic objectives and work activity for 2014-15 in the coming weeks.

Board Vacancies:  There are a total of eight vacancies across four caucuses.  The Board has approved the process for filling these vacancies which includes a call for nomination.  The details of the process, the qualifications and other requirements will be sent to the membership later this week.  If you are interested in being nominated, please read the material carefully and note the deadlines.  It is the Board’s intent to make a decision on the vacancies at its January 30 meeting.  

Bill 8 – Public Sector and MPP Accountability and Transparency Act
The Board was updated on the recent Standing Committee hearings on this Bill.  There were a cross section of presenters, including the integrity commissioners, the Provincial and a municipal auditor general, the provincial and Toronto Ombudsman and the Constitutional Rights Centre which question the constitutionality of some of the government’s oversight framework in the Bill as it relates to municipal governments.  The Standing Committee is to debate motions to amend the Bill and will conclude its work on December 3rd.  AMO will keep its members informed as to what amendments were made to the Bill as a result of the hearings.
 
Blue Box Arbitration and Waste Diversion Policy
On November 25th, the Honourable Robert Armstrong, Q.C. released his arbitration decision related to the amount of the 2014 Blue Box payment to municipalities from the steward producers. The Arbitrator concluded that the Steward Obligation is $115,172,322, which is higher than the current 2014 interim payments.  Materials on the decision were sent to AMO members last week and are on the website.  The Board was briefed on the upcoming future Blue Box framework negotiations with stewards, as well as the Province’s new waste reduction legislation expected in 2015.  AMO and the City of Toronto, with staff support from RPWCO and MWA will work together to ensure that the municipal sector is prepared for these discussions.

Municipal Hazardous and Special Waste (MHSW) Update
The discussions regarding Phase 1 Materials Agreement with Stewardship Ontario (SO) have taken place.  AMO, RPWCO and MWA agreed with SO to amend the current agreement to clarify how materials moved to an Independent Stewardship Plan would be handled.  AMO, RPWCO and MWA asked that a clause to reflect increased costs be added, which remains outstanding.

The MOECC Phase 2 funding to municipalities ended October 1st.  The Ministry has expected that stewards would organize and undertake voluntary programs for municipally collected materials.  Discussions with producers and steward associations have been taking place.  Achieving funding to replace what the Ministry once provided is a challenge. For the sector, AMO, MWA and RPWCO will continue to negotiate.

Electricity Distributors Association (EDA) – Project Green Light
The Project Green Light proposal provides a feasible and more rational alternative to electricity delivery than the current configuration.  “Shoulder-to-shoulder” electricity delivery using local distribution companies will bring about efficiencies and more effective services.  The Province is considering the sale of Hydro One distribution assets.  The position of the EDA is that keeping Hydro One assets whole works against this type of efficiency.  AMO will work with the EDA to meet with Minsters to advance Project Green Light. 

Personal Support Workers’ Wage Enhancement and Impacts on Long-Term Care Homes
As announced in the 2014 Budget, the Province is increasing the wages of Personal Support Workers (PSWs) by a set amount. While a laudable initiative, there are labour relations and cost implications for municipal long-term care facilities.  AMO believes that the government should establish a minimum wage threshold for each of the program years instead of its approach which is to mandate across the board minimum wage increases. This will still allow the government to meet its policy intent of raising the wages of low paid PSWs while at the same time preventing significant labour cost increases in municipal Long-Term Care Homes where wage rates are already much higher. AMO is also calling on the government to formally consult AMO on future years’ implementation.

Early Childhood Educator’s Wage Enhancement
The Board was informed that, as announced in the 2014 Budget, the Province is seeking to increase the wages of Early Childhood Educators (ECEs) in the province.  Wage enhancements will start with an average increase of $1 per hour in 2015 and a further average $1 increase in 2016 for ECEs who work in licensed child care facilities.  The voluntary initiative should help stabilize child care operators and support their ability to recruit and retain qualified ECEs in their employ.  Directly operated municipal child care facilities will be eligible to receive the increase as will other child care providers, including non-profit and for-profit organizations.

Investing Federal Gas Tax Funds in the One Investment Program
Four municipalities have chosen to invest their federal Gas Tax fund allocation into the One Investment Program – the Township of Carling, the Township of Hilliard, the Township of The Archipelago and the Municipality of Red Lake.  Total investment is $246,178.  These municipalities want to grow their federal Gas Tax allocation over time to pay for a future project.

MEPCO Update
MEPCO Chair Doug Reycraft provided an update on the recently approved OMERS Sponsors Corporation Board Primary Plan Funding Management Strategy.  The Strategy outlines how benefits and contributions will be modified as the OMERS Primary Plan cycles, over time, through periods of funding deficit and surplus.  The Board’s work plan and budget for 2015 were approved and the 2015 MEPCO billing process is unchanged from the previous two years.  Invoices are based on municipal employee data supplied by OMERS, and will be forwarded to Heads of Council, CAOs and accounts payable staff in January.  The 2013 MEPCO Annual Report is available on the MEPCO website.

LAS Update
Eighty-three municipalities are upgrading their entire streetlight network using the LAS LED Streetlight Service.  As a result of a recent RFP for product, Cree was once again selected as the successful supplier, due to the quality of their product.  If you are serious about reducing your electricity bill and also improving the quality of lighting in your municipality, contact LAS today.