03/30/2015

To keep members informed, AMO provides updates on important issues considered at regular AMO Board of Directors’ meetings. Highlights of the March 27, 2015 Board meeting include:

The March 27th meeting was the first Board of Directors meeting for the nine new members appointed to fill vacancies resulting from the municipal election.  Check out www.amo.ca  for your full AMO Board 2014-2016.

New AMO Secretary-Treasurer
Scott Wilson, CAO, County of Wellington, and AMO Board member was appointed by the AMO Board of Director temporarily to fill the vacancy for the AMO Secretary-Treasurer until August 2015.  A nomination process, as required by by-law, will occur seeking candidates to complete the term.

Ontario Climate Change Strategy – Meeting with the MOECC Minister
The Honourable Glen Murray, Minister of Environment and Climate Change (MOECC), attended the Board meeting to discuss the state of scientific knowledge on climate change and impacts of emerging weather patterns on Ontario’s environment and economy. The Minister provided an overview of some of the issues the government is considering as it develops its strategy as well as the potential economic development opportunities that could be provided through technological innovation and productivity gains of moving to a low carbon economy in the province. The Minister committed to working with municipal governments as full partners and noted his appreciation of the framework adopted by the Board and looks forward to working with the AMO’s Climate Change Task Force on Ontario’s Climate Change Strategy.

What's Next Ontario?  AMO’s Fiscal Sustainability Project
Achieving fiscal sustainability is an overarching goal shared by all municipal governments. The AMO Board approved as part of its 2015 strategic objectives a special project involving some substantial research and policy development related to identifying what a future municipal fiscal sustainability framework could look like for the needs and diversity of over 400 municipalities. The project is named “What’s next Ontario?”  AMO members are asked to stay tuned and then participate in the conversation to develop a vision for how we can to achieve a more predictable fiscal future. 

Implementation of the Social Assistance Management System (SAMS)
After receiving a SAMS update, the Board directed that the AMO President follow-up with the Minister of Community and Social Services, the Honourable Helena Jaczek on the need for full financial compensation based on actual costs incurred until such time as the short and long-term problems within the system are resolved.  While some progress has been made, efforts continue to stabilize the system across the province. Over the last month, the ministry has enacted a series of new actions to address the problems including: site visits by the Deputy Minister; creation of a front-line users group; contracting a third part advisor to provide independent, expert advice; and, provided $5 million in one-time funding to municipalities and DSSABs for costs incurred up until March 31, 2015. In a March 19th letter Richard Steele, the Ministry of Community and Social Services Assistant Deputy Minister, to Ontario Works administrators did say: ”This additional $5 million is in recognition of the tremendous efforts being made to implement SAMS, and brings the cumulative amount of provincial funding provided to support the operational costs of SAMS implementation to $15 million- $5 m anticipated and provided prior to implementation and an additional $10 million provided post-implementation. The funding is 100% provincial with no cost-sharing requirement for costs incurred up to March 31, 2015.”  It is unclear if the financial compensation is sufficient as the ministry did not survey municipalities and DSSABs on the actual costs. 

Municipal Paper on New Waste Diversion Legislation
New provincial waste diversion legislation is expected shortly.  Staff is preparing a municipal discussion paper to outline municipal governments’ perspective for the MOECC Minister and officials that can inform legislation development.  The Board approved the finalization of the paper which is  based on key principles that include environmental impacts, preserving limited disposal capacity, ensuring fair compensation for municipalities for services provided as well as any assets and associated costs that are stranded as a new system is implemented. 

Self-Insured Long Term Disability
The Ministry of Finance (MOF) recently consulted stakeholders about exempting certain employers through regulation from being required to obtain third party insurance.  After speaking with municipal staff and the Ontario Municipal Human Resources Association (OMHRA), AMO staff made a submission to MOF requesting that municipalities be exempted from the amendments to the Insurance Act with respect to long term disability benefits. We are awaiting a response.

Fair and Open Tendering
Open tendering continues to be an issue for municipal governments as it increases municipal infrastructure costs.  In March, AMO’s President wrote a letter to Minister Flynn requesting that municipal governments be exempted from the “construction employer” provisions in the Labour Relations Act.  While there is a process under the LRA, there have been no exemptions for municipalities to date.

MEPCO Update
The AMO Board was updated on the work of the MEPCO Board and its mandate to deal with pension related matters.  MEPCO made a submission to the province on its proposed Ontario Retirement Pension Plan (ORPP) which is framework legislation before the House.  MEPCO noted some potential impacts and is seeking clarification. At its recent meeting,  George Cooke, OAC Board Chair, provided an update on the 2014 OMERS investment return of 10% (net), as well as recent organizational changes and the status of proposed membership growth initiatives.  Mayor Rick Goldring, City of Burlington, a member of the AMO Board was appointed to the MEPCO Board.

LAS Update
LAS, in conjunction with a Schedule 1 Chartered Bank, is launching a high interest savings account (HISA) for municipalities.  By aggregating monies invested, all municipal government, regardless of size, will realize a higher rate of return than going on their own.  The HISA will offer complete liquidity with no lock in provisions or withdrawal penalties.  Net interest rates will be anywhere between 1.15% to 1.25% depending upon the bank prime rate and the total aggregated amount deposited.