02/18/2003

Toronto, Ont., February 18, 2003. The Throne Speech promise of “…new partnerships, a new urban strategy, and new approach to healthy communities for the 21st century,” has not been met with today’s federal budget and municipalities are disappointed with the lack of a significant “new deal.”

Ken Boshcoff, AMO President, noted “Ontario’s municipalities are not really any further ahead.  It looks like municipal governments will have to continue to rely on property taxes to cope.”
 
The Federal government has only committed to spend $100 million per year over the next decade across the country on municipal infrastructure.  The last Canada-Ontario Infrastructure Agreement promised $680 million over six years, which was completely spent before the end of three years.  With an estimated $21.1 billion of infrastructure deficit across Ontario’s municipalities, it is clear that the federal envelope of $1 billion over 10 years for the entire country will not go far.

The Federal government is committing more funding to homelessness, affordable housing, child benefits and childcare.   Among other matters, AMO will be looking for Ontario’s portion of the $320 million for existing housing agreements to fully flow through to Ontario’s municipalities who have been downloaded this responsibility.  In order to make real inroads in affordable housing, AMO feels that the Provincial budget should match the federal funds earmarked for affordable housing.

In addition, the National Child Benefit supplement will be more supportive of families if the Province does not discount the benefit under Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability programs. The status of the negotiations between Ontario and the Federal government related to $935 million for “quality child care” needs to be concluded as soon as possible, so families and their children can benefit from the program.

Ken Boshcoff added, “While we are clearly disappointed with the amount of financial support for municipal governments, there is a need to have these vital programs in place. We will continue to push for additional funds.”   He added, “As I said after the Federal Throne Speech, Ontario’s municipalities need to be at the table in designing these programs. One size solutions do not work.”

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is a non-profit organization with member municipalities representing 98 per cent of Ontario’s population.  AMO supports and enhances strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

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