04/05/2013

Toronto, Ontario, May 2, 2013 – The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) welcomes the Ontario Budget’s proposed investments in infrastructure, such as roads, bridges and public transit.

The Province is in a better position to invest in communities because it has controlled costs, including growth in wages and benefits. Municipalities need better tools to do the same.

“All governments – federal, provincial and municipal – need to work together to make infrastructure investments that promote safety and economic prosperity,” said AMO President Russ Powers. “The municipal property tax base cannot support the level of investment that’s needed and the demand exists right across Ontario. The Budget is on the right track by investing in urban, rural and northern communities.”

Specifically, the Budget would invest $100 million in 2013-14 for roads and bridges in northern and rural areas, and make the existing provincial gas tax transfer permanent. Currently, two cents in gas tax revenue is transferred to municipalities for every litre that’s sold. The Budget also makes mention of supporting transportation and transit infrastructure in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, but it does not provide details.

The Budget emphasizes the Ontario Government’s success in controlling costs, particularly with respect to wages and benefits. It notes that the Province has been more successful than municipal governments. For some time, municipalities have been calling on the Province to provide the tools that they need to achieve similar results. Changes to Ontario’s interest arbitration system are the most obvious and pressing.

“The Ontario Government says it is confident that broader public sector partners can work together to control wage and benefit costs while protecting services. Municipalities are not. Current economic conditions have not prevented interest arbitrators from awarding extremely high wage and benefit increases for emergency service employees. These increases will continue without changes to Provincial legislation – and four attempts to balance the system have failed in the past 12 months.”

More detailed Budget analysis will be provided by AMO through its free Breaking News Alerts and weekly e-newsletter, the WatchFile.

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