05/17/2006

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Ontario released results of a survey of Ontario’s municipal governments on issues about financial arrangements with the Government of Ontario, regulation, property taxes, local spending and municipal f
The results of the survey have been interpreted to suggest that municipal government leaders are not seeking greater autonomy from the Province.

A CFIB news release issued today, "The survey results were astounding. Ontario's municipal leaders are overwhelmingly against the key principles of broader revenue and regulatory powers of Bill 53.” (Bill 53 is the proposed City of Toronto Act. It was not referred to in the CFIB survey.)

The statement appears to be based on two survey questions.

One question asked whether “cities should have broad, permissive powers to regulate people, businesses and other entities even if these powers overlap with the powers of other level of government” or “there should be a clear division of regulatory powers between levels of government to prevent overlap or duplication”. Not surprisingly, 93 percent of respondents were opposed to overlap and duplication. This response has been characterized not as opposition to overlap and duplication but as indicating opposition to broad, permissive powers.

Ontario’s municipalities have consistency opposed overlap and duplication and the micromanagement of municipal governments by the Province. In fact, AMO advocacy for broader permissive powers for municipal governments calls on the Province to clearly identify “provincial interests” in an effort to streamline and make respective authorities clear and accountable.

In another question, respondents were asked to identify whether they would prefer new revenue tools or for the Province to upload the costs of services currently funded by municipalities. Given the either/or choice, 89 percent of respondents chose uploading.

In advocating on behalf of Ontario’s municipalities, AMO has always been clear in its position that new revenue tools are not the answer to Ontario’s growing provincial-municipal $3 billion fiscal gap. That is why AMO continues to advocate for changes in both governance and new fiscal arrangements to deal with the $3 billion gap; so that municipal governments can get on with the job of building strong and sustainable communities in every part of Ontario.

The results of the CFIB survey are not surprising. How the results have been interpreted is surprising.

AMO will continue to keep members informed of developments in Ontario’s Municipal Act review.