02/27/2007

AMO President’s remarks to the 2007 ROMA/OGRA Conference are available online.
AMO's President addressed ROMA / OGRA delegates this morning at their annual conference in Toronto. The full text of his remarks is available on AMO’s website.

This AMO Alert provides highlights from it:

  • Municipalities must stand together to advance our common cause.
  • We will give credit where credit is due, but we are keeping our eye on what still needs to be done.
  • We are working to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability through the joint Review, but expectations remain high for the 2007 provincial Budget.
  • Good governance alone will not achieve strong communities. Strong communities are adequately funded communities.
  • Bill 130 - the Municipal Act - was an important accomplishment, the full scope of which will only be fully realized in time.
  • This new authority comes with a demand for greater accountability. All eyes are on us to see what we make of this opportunity. It has taken us more than 100 years to secure this level of empowerment – and we could lose it in a fraction of that time.
  • The Province has also begun to address the funding of downloaded services; slowly but surely, and with the promise of more to come.
  • And, while these milestones are important, the core challenge remains – the use of property taxes to subsidize provincial services. It is a $3 billion challenge that is simply unsustainable.
  • The Premier answered our call for a fiscal and service delivery review with a goal of creating the kind of structural improvements that will make our communities more competitive.
  • AMO took care to ensure that our representatives at both the political and staff working tables have extensive expertise and a strong appreciation of rural and northern issues. I sit at the political table with three past AMO presidents, whom have been trusted to represent all municipalities in the past. As well there are past presidents of FONOM and NOMA. At the staff table, we have a broad representation from rural, urban and northern as well. The AMO Board believed that these are the right people for a tough but highly critical job. They need and deserve our support.
  • Changes will not and cannot happen overnight.
  • However, there are high expectations in the municipal world that the needs of Ontario’s communities will be recognized in the 2007 Budget.
  • We are particularly concerned with the impact of job losses in rural and northern communities. Economic decline in any part of Ontario affects us all – and AMO is doing what it can to ensure that this is understood by all who can make a difference.
  • Yesterday, AMO released its Rural-Northern Plan Discussion Paper. Developed by AMO Working Group on Rural and Northern Issues, it is designed to ensure that the Province appreciates your challenges and seizes every opportunity to promote your prosperity.
  • AMO has proven that it can, and often does make a difference.
  • As you heard yesterday, Minister Cansfield acknowledged that the “hours of work” regulation is causing problems for municipalities. AMO has advocated an exemption for municipal vehicles, including snow ploughs. We are optimistic that this will be resolved quickly. And we will continue to work with the Ministry of Transportation to ensure it works for you.