03/25/2010

Provincial Budget Maintains Child Care and Infrastructure Funding; Increases Social Assistance Costs.
The 2010 Ontario Provincial Budget supports job creation and economic development. At the same time, the Budget maintains public services through investments that preserve child care, maintains infrastructure stimulus programs and increases the capacity of Northern Ontario communities.

In receiving the Budget, AMO’s President, Peter Hume said, “the government’s plan for fighting its deficit by and large maintains our cost sharing arrangements with the Province.” President Hume also welcomed the Province’s willingness to help municipalities maintain child care spaces that working families depend on. This is welcome relief in light of fading federal funding for this program.

The Budget makes a number of commitments that impact Ontario municipal governments, including:

  • Permanently increasing child care funding for existing spaces by $63.5 million annually to make up for the loss of federal government funding;
  • Introducing measures to manage labour costs, including extending the freeze of MPP pay, freezing the compensation structure of non-bargained political and legislative assembly staff for two years, freezing compensation structures in the Broader Public Sector and the Ontario Public Service and for all non-bargained employees for two years – municipalities are exempted;
  • The government also committed to work with transfer partners and bargaining agents as  collective agreements are renegotiated to manage spending pressures, protect public services and provide no net increase in compensation;
  • Increasing the basic adult needs and shelter allowances for Ontario Disability Support Program and Ontario Works recipients by one per cent. This will impact municipalities by increasing the municipal portion of this $57 million program increase beginning January 2011;
  • Changing the Special Diet Allowance which may reduce the municipal 20 percent social assistance cost share;
  • A Northern Ontario Energy Credit – up to $200/year for a family;
  • A three-year Northern Ontario industrial electricity rebate program to reduce industrial electricity prices by 25 per cent;
  • Enhanced job skills training for job seekers by adding an additional 30,000 Second Career participant spaces;
  • Discontinuation of the Ontario Bus Replacement Program and include bus replacement as eligible expenses under the Provincial Gas Tax Program-one time funding of $174 million in 2009-10 will be provided to cover current municipal commitments under the Ontario Bus Replacement Program; and
  • Enhanced property tax relief for low to middle-income earners – (more details are being sought).
AMO will conduct further analysis on Budget implications for municipalities and advise members as details become available.