01/30/2008

AMO 2008 Pre-Budget Presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.
AMO believes there is a shared understanding that the current state of municipal finance does not provide municipal governments with the necessary resources for their immediate responsibilities, nor those of the future.

All three political parties represented here today share this understanding – that the Ontario Government’s over-reliance on the property tax revenues must come to an end. It is a tax dollar that has been stretched too far, for too long, with demands that are too great.

The result is the highest property taxes in Canada and deteriorating infrastructure. A decade ago, this outcome for our municipalities was a foreseeable result of decisions made at the time. For too long, Ontario has stood alone in its approach to provincial-municipal fiscal relations. Being the province with highest property taxes in the country is only part of the problem. This is why municipalities are pleased with the progress that is now being made.

A key milestone was reached last year when Premier McGuinty announced a timed, full upload of two entire, key social programs - the Ontario Disability Support Program and the Ontario Drug Benefits Program. As a result, by 2011, the province will have reduced its reliance on municipal property taxes by $935 million a year.

In addition, the province has provided municipalities with a stable funding guarantee for the 2008 Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund allocations. No municipality will receive less than they received in 2007 – and surely those due to receive more will do so consistent with past government commitments.