11/20/2007

Toronto, Ontario, November 20, 2007 – Municipal leaders across Canada are seeking help from the federal government to address a growing problem that is affecting residents, businesses and all orders of government alike.
“Canada is a rich country,” said Doug Reycraft, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. “So why is our municipal infrastructure in crisis?”  

The infrastructure underinvestment problem has emerged over the last two decades.  In the early 1990s, the federal government transferred a significant portion of its operating deficit to provinces and territories by drastically cutting funding transfers.  In Ontario, in turn, the provincial government downloaded part of its operating deficit to municipalities by downloading costs for programs such as welfare, social housing, ambulance services, and 5000 kilometres of provincial highways and related bridges.

“The results are clear,” said Reycraft. “Federal and Provincial historical budget deficits have been transformed into a municipal infrastructure deficit.”  

As a result of the massive shift in financial responsibilities, municipalities have had to increase taxes year after year, reduce services in the community, and defer infrastructure rehabilitation to later in its life-cycle.  

Solving the problem will require collaboration, ingenuity and much higher levels of capital investment by the federal government.  

“Canada’s massive municipal infrastructure deficit is undermining the prosperity and competitiveness of the nation,” said AMO President Reycraft.  Responding to a new study undertaken by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that shows Canada’s municipal infrastructure deficit is now $123 billion, Reycraft said, “The national figures are staggering and Ontario’s municipal infrastructure deficit is a big part of that picture.” 

Canada’s aging transportation and transit networks are resulting in gridlock that undermines productivity and the economic competitiveness of our local, provincial and national economies.  Aging municipal water, sewer and storm sewer systems strain to safeguard the health of our communities, our natural resources and our environment.

As a nation, we are only just beginning to understand how municipal infrastructure will need to be enhanced as we adapt to the impacts of global climate change and the global economy.

Most public infrastructure in Ontario is municipal infrastructure. It includes roads, highways and bridges; transit systems; water and wastewater systems; public housing; long-term care facilities; electricity generation and distribution, waste management and recycling facilities; sporting and recreation facilities; the infrastructure that supports police, fire and ambulance services in Ontario cities and towns and so on. 

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