10/18/2001

Toronto, Ont., Thursday, October 18, 2001. After many starts over the last three decades, municipalities are to get a new Municipal Act.
The Act is to give municipal governments greater authority and flexibility to deal with local interests in a way that makes sense to the community.  The current Act, which is about 150 years old, is highly prescriptive and authorizes municipalities to act only in defined areas, in a certain way, at a certain time. A more permissive approach will allow municipalities to find creative and timely solutions to local needs.  

Today's announcement means that Ontario municipalities will have a more modern governing framework B one that will help build a more effective provincial-municipal relationship.  "The elimination from the 1998 draft version of the Act that gave the Minister authority to overwrite any part of the Act is extremely important." said Ann Mulvale, AMO President,  "Municipalities, like the business sector need certainty and predictability when it comes to planning and carrying out their responsibilities."

AMO has been asking that the new Act recognize municipal governments and we understand that the legislation will do this as well as provide for pre-consultation on matters that affect municipal governments.  "We believe that the legislation will go a long way to recognizing the importance of the municipal order of government, the wisdom of government to government discussions," said Mulvale.  "We are highly committed to signing, as soon as possible, a Memorandum of Understanding on how this consultation process would work.  We believe Minister Hodgson has seen the benefits of an open, consultative process in the development of this new legislation and we are extremely pleased the Minister is going to continue that consultative involvement in the preparation of the regulations to implement parts of the new Act."

Municipal government is an accountable order of government and many municipalities already undertake numerous activities to solicit input from and keep their communities informed of priorities, local policy issues and budget matters.  We expect that the accountability measures that are in this new Municipal Act will allow Minister Flaherty to say that municipalities meet the intent of the Broader Public Sector Accountability Act, Bill 46.  We believe Minister Flaherty shares our concerns about the potential confusion and duplication between the new Municipal Act as it has been developed over recent months and Bill 46 which was introduced in May.

"We believe this legislation will improve provincial-municipal relations," said Mulvale.  AWe serve a common taxpayer.  It does not make sense to them that legislation clouds responsibility and accountability.  This Act should go a long way in clearly setting out how we handle shared provincial-municipal interests and providing the autonomy necessary to deal with entirely municipal community interests."

AMO will be reviewing the legislation tabled today and will work with the Minister and the business community to ensure that its technical components can be properly implemented in municipal day-to-day operations. 
   

- 30 -