08/17/2005

TORONTO, Ont., August 17, 2005 – Delegates attending the closing of the Association of Municipalities 2005 AMO Conference today heard from Premier Dalton McGuinty.
Premier McGuinty promised to continue to work in partnership with municipalities on a range of issues, but failed to commit to developing a substantive and practical plan to restore fiscal sustainability to Ontario's municipalities.

Currently, $3 billion annually is siphoned away from core municipal responsibilities such as water treatment, transportation, effective waste management, policing and fire fighting, to fund provincial health and social
services.

“The Premier acknowledges that the downloading policies his government inherited are poor public policy, but offers no indication that he will develop a plan to change them,” said Roger Anderson, President of AMO. “Failing to correct past mistakes is also poor public policy – particularly when those mistakes compromise the future prosperity of Ontario and its communities.”

Anderson agreed with the Premier that good progress had been made in improving the relationship between the provincial and municipal governments during the past two years, citing participation in Federal / Provincial discussions, legislated consultation commitments and reforms to the Municipal Act, which will provide local governments with more powers and flexibility to address community issues.  However, he noted that without a plan to end the province’s dependence on the municipal property tax base, improved relations and new powers alone could not build strong communities. 

For more than 100 years, AMO’s annual conference has united municipal, Provincial - and increasingly, Federal - officials to share best practices, overcome challenges and plan for the future.  The three-day 2005 Conference drew 1,900 participants from across the Province.  

AMO’s members elected a new Board of Directors at this year’s conference.  Securing a plan to remove Provincial health and social costs from the municipal property tax base will be a high priority for this new Board.  AMO has long held that health and income redistributive programs should be funded by income taxes. 

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario's 445 municipal governments. 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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