03/27/2012

Toronto, Ontario, March 27, 2012. AMO appreciates the 2012 Ontario Budget’s emphasis on addressing Provincial challenges that respects municipal challenges and the need to ensure that government services are affordable and sustainable over time.
"We knew this would be a tough budget," said AMO President Gary McNamara. "However, government spending must be sustainable over the long term to ensure that Ontario communities continue to benefit from effective policing and fire protection, health care services, education, social services and essential infrastructure."

Importantly, the Ontario government remains committed to the uploading agreement it made in 2008. Through it, provincial social service and court security costs are being lifted from the municipal property tax base, so that this revenue can serve its intent, which is funding municipal programs and services.

Proposed changes to public pension plans would help to ensure that they are affordable, viable and realistic over the long term. Currently, all indications suggest that Ontario’s public pension plans are in trouble. Our communities are counting on us to make sure that pension funds do not undermine our ability to deliver core government programs and services, and to invest in infrastructure.

The government has proposed to create legislation that would make interest arbitration "more transparent, accountable and efficient." This would appear to reflect concerns that have been raised by municipalities and echoed by the Drummond Commission.

The Province has indicated that the 10 Year Infrastructure Plan’s allocation of $35 billion over three years for all public sector infrastructure will remain. We expect that this will help municipal governments, particularly with the most urgent needs. However, as the Premier indicated a month ago, the 2012 Budget does not capture the new funding for roads and bridges that he committed to at the 2011 AMO Conference.

About one third of the Drummond Commission’s recommendations addressed programs or services that touch municipal government in some way. There is a strong desire among Ontario municipalities to work with the Ontario Government to identify prudent ways to reduce costs, improve service delivery and streamline roles and responsibilities. As we move forward, AMO will provide municipalities with ongoing analysis of the initiatives outlined in today’s budget.

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 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.