2015 Fall Economic Statement Highlights

Today Finance Minister Charles Sousa delivered the 2015 Fall Economic Statement. Highlights of the statement for municipalities include the following:

Power Dam Special Payment Program
Payments to municipalities which host power dam facilities will be maintained for 2016. This removes an immediate financial risk for nearly a quarter of municipalities for the next year. The Statement says work to examine the phase-down of this program and future taxation options for municipalities will continue. This is the government’s second deferral of a plan to claw back these payments. AMO’s preferred option is for the government to fully abandon plans for any claw backs.

Business Property Tax Capping Program
Beginning in 2016, municipalities will be permitted to opt out of the capping program if they meet provincial eligibility criteria. This will allow municipalities to adjust the capping program to best suit local circumstance. AMO wrote to the Minister of Finance in 2014 seeking these changes. AMO is pleased that this administrative burden will be lessened for many municipalities in the future.

Special Purpose Business Property Assessment Review
Bill 144 and the Fall Economic Statement will amend the Request for Reconsideration process timeline to support the early resolution of assessment issues. It is AMO’s view that the above and other changes will support the stability of the property assessment system.

Overall Fiscal Outlook
The 2015-16 deficit is now projected at $7.5 billion, an improvement of $1 billion over the 2015 Budget projection. This revision includes the government’s recent proceeds from the sale of 15% of Hydro One which will support infrastructure investment. The 2016-17 deficit is projected at $4.5 billion. The government remains committed to balancing the budget by 2017-18.

A full copy of the Statement is available at Building Ontario Up: Progress for Prosperity.

Waste Free Ontario Act

This afternoon the Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Glen Murray, introduced the long-awaited new omnibus waste management legislation titled "Waste Free Ontario Act".

The draft legislation is comprised of two Acts:

  • Resource Recovery and Circular Economy Act to set overarching provincial direction and establish a full producer responsibility regime for products and packaging.
  • Waste Diversion Transition Act to replace the Waste Diversion Act (2002) to help ensure a smooth transition of existing programs to the new full producer responsibility regime.
Additionally, the new legislative framework includes a "Strategy for a Waste Free Ontario: Building the Circular Economy" to support Ontario in achieving its goals.

The legislation is high-level enabling legislation that will see much of the details on how services will be funded and delivered, determined later via regulation after much consultation.  The legislative framework is posted on the EBR Registry and the Ministry intends to consult with stakeholders across the Province in January 2016. 

AMO will be reviewing the proposed framework and providing comments to members shortly, once staff have had an opportunity to review the proposed legislation and the draft strategy in detail.
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