03/04/2010

The federal government brought down its 2010 Budget promising to take action in three areas: continuing stimulus spending; job creation and economic growth; and restoring balanced budgets, as reported in AMO’s Throne Speech analysis.
In presenting the Budget, the government committed to maintaining the $19 billion stimulus funding put in place in the 2009 Budget for core municipal infrastructure, affordable housing and recreational facilities this year as planned. Stimulus funding is cost shared one third by all orders of government and Ontario municipalities have been working hard complete these investments.

For infrastructure, the Budget also commits to maintaining the Gas Tax Fund, which transfers $746 million a year to Ontario, for investments in core local infrastructure such as roads and bridges, public transit, water and wastewater systems and community energy.

The government also pledged action on the Federal deficit, saying it would review programs and spending while safeguarding pensions, health and education transfers. These transfers were cut during the mid-1990s when the federal government last sought to reduce deficits and are credited with setting off a chain reaction as provinces and territories had to introduce corresponding cuts to balance their own budgets with implications for municipalities.

The Budget affirms the federal government’s contribution to affordable housing programs. This amounts to $1.2b in combined federal and provincial contributions available through to 2011. The budget did not address future allocations of federal program extensions for Affordable Housing Initiative (AHI), Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP) and Homelessness Partnering Strategy (HPS).

Finally, the federal government committed to extend the $100 a month Universal Child Care Benefit to single parents. No mention was made of continuing Federal funding for early learning and childcare. As of March 31, 2010, almost $64 million will disappear from Ontario's childcare system if the federal government does not commit to extending funding. Without it, municipalities will be forced to eliminate thousands of childcare spaces. AMO believes the Federal government must fix this problem immediately, particularly given the havoc it will cause for working families, many of which are already struggling to cope with the recession.

AMO will continue to keep members informed of Federal Budget information as more details become available.