06/15/2006

Toronto, Ontario, June 15, 2006 – AMO is applauding today’s introduction of a new Municipal Act that would respect municipalities as a responsible order of government and provide them with broad, permissive powers and much less micro-management by the Province.
The proposed Municipal Act would strengthen municipalities by providing greater authority and autonomy in key areas such as the design of governance structures within a municipality and local boards, economic development tools, by-law enforcement, user fees, licensing, and the promotion of accountability.  

“Ontario’s proposed Municipal Act recognizes that municipal governments are respected, responsible and accountable municipal governments, and that with improved legislation, we can better serve our communities,” said Roger Anderson, President of AMO.  “While we are still reviewing the legislation in detail, it’s good news for Ontario municipalities and the hundreds of communities they serve.”     

The proposed legislation would transform the provincial-municipal relationship.  Traditionally the Province has micro-managed municipalities by prescribing what they could and could not do.  While the proposed Municipal Act would continue to restrict municipalities in some areas, it would provide them with much greater permission to exercise autonomy on matters that lay beyond stated limits. 

The new Act stops short of offering municipalities broader taxation authority.  While more permissive taxation tools would not have begun to offset the high cost of providing downloaded community health and social services, it was viewed as a potential source of some relief for cash-strapped municipalities.  

AMO knows of no other jurisdiction in Canada that funds health and social service costs to the same degree through property tax revenue.  The unsustainable practice has been sapping as much as $3 billion annually from core municipal programs and services for almost a decade.  Premier McGuinty has acknowledged the fiscal challenges that Ontario municipalities are struggling with and he has made a strong commitment to addressing them within the broader context of reforming the “fiscal architecture” shared by the Federal, Provincial and Municipal orders of government.  AMO supports these efforts and continues to call on the Provincial Government to work with AMO to create a viable plan to restore fiscal sustainability for Ontario municipalities over a manageable period of time.

“Ontario municipalities are in desperate need of a plan to achieve fiscal sustainability,” said Anderson.  “The well-being of our communities and the future prosperity of our province depend on it.”

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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