01/12/2009

Turning the Corner: AMO 2009 Pre-Budget Presentation to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs. January 12, 2009.
The year 2008 was a turning point for Ontario municipalities. For the last ten years municipal leaders, economists, and politicians from every party have argued that social services should not be funded from the property tax base.

The year 2008 brought not just a plan to change that but one that is in action. We are turning the corner - significant improvements to provincial-municipal fiscal relations are underway. The outcomes of the Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review are among the most important advances municipalities have seen in decades.

The Review achieved consensus on fundamentally important issues. It is resulting in structural cost-sharing changes that are reducing municipal costs and financial risks in the future. This benefits all property taxpayers.

In 2006, AMO and the province set out to deliver a new fiscal and service delivery partnership for the 21st century. The result is the uploading over time of a net $1.5 billion a year of social assistance and court security costs. This means that Ontario communities will be in a better position to compete with other jurisdictions in Canada and around the world, to attract investment and jobs to Ontario. It sets out a course for provincial-municipal collaboration and partnership which will improve the prosperity of Ontario and its communities.

The provincial government should be commended for taking a bold step forward in collaboration with the municipal sector. What has been achieved has been done together. The path ahead is lined with further work. But as a result of what has been achieved, it is one the province and municipalities will take with a wealth of collaborative spirit, cooperation, and mutual understanding.

In looking to the future, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario is seeking predictable municipal funding and stable revenue; improved economic development through infrastructure investment; and the promotion of green jobs leading to a greener economy.