Ontario’s Ford Government is Downloading Costs for Services on Municipalities and their Ratepayers

“We call on the Government of Ontario to postpone the implementation of these funding cuts to at least 2020, to allow for proper discussion with municipalities and local residents. We call on the Government of Ontario to be transparent about its intentions and engage with cities before downloading more services.” – from a Statement released by the Mayors of 28 of Ontario’s larger cities, including St. Catharines

Statement from Mayor Cam Guthrie (Guelph, Ontario), Chair of LUMCO and LUMCO Mayors

Posted May 2nd, 2019 on Niagara At Large

Ontario Finance Minister Vic Fedeli presents the 2019 budget as Premier Doug Ford looks on at the legislature in Toronto on Thursday, April 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn

(This past April 30th), Mayor Cam Guthrie, Chair of the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) released the following statement on behalf of Ontario’s big-city mayors:

“Big-city mayors from across Ontario are extremely concerned that the Government of Ontario is engaging in downloading by stealth – implementing funding and governance changes to municipalities without any consultation, after cities have already approved our budgets.

This amounts to millions of dollars per year in funding reductions to vital, front-line services including public health, policing, library services, child care, tourism, and flood management. This is on top of a cap on Ontario gas tax funding and ongoing uncertainty with major changes to ambulance services. The Government of Ontario is effectively forcing municipalities to consider tax increases or service cuts to absorb the download in services it has proposed.

How much is Ontario Premier Doug Ford and his self-described “Government for the People” saving Ontario residents money, or simply shifting or downloading the costs to municipal level to make themselves look good?

The first line in Finance Minister Fedeli’s budget speech indicated the government would not raise taxes. The budget paper explicitly says that changes and costs need to be sustainable for both orders of government. There is only one taxpayer. It is disingenuous to say that the changes are sustainable, if municipalities are left to consider how to make up the shortfalls.

Municipalities are being notified of these changes in a piecemeal fashion through letters to agencies, after municipal budgets have already been passed – giving no time or opportunity for Councils to find efficiencies or economies of scale.

We applaud the Province’s willingness to listen to communities’ concerns in some cases, for example on Bill 66 and changes to autism funding. But we question why it takes an outcry before we are heard. Municipalities are simply asking to be consulted beforehand, so that we can work alongside the Province on changes that are in the best interests of the taxpayers we represent. We support the Province’s efforts to get its budget deficit under control. But it cannot do so on the backs of local taxpayers, without consultation.

We call on the Government of Ontario to postpone the implementation of these funding cuts to at least 2020, to allow for proper discussion with municipalities and local residents. We call on the Government of Ontario to be transparent about its intentions and engage with cities before downloading more services.

City budgets across the Province have already been passed because, as the Province knows, municipalities operate on a fiscal year that runs from January to December – unlike the Province’s April to March fiscal year. Residents have begun to pay their taxes, which have been set locally after many months of consultations with residents about the services they want their local governments to provide and how much they are willing to pay for them.

LUMCO mayors have invited Premier Ford and Minister Clark to the next LUMCO meeting. We sincerely wish for them to attend, so that we can sit down together to find a better way forward for all Ontarians.”

About Us – The Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) represents 67% of Ontario’s population. Currently there are 28 Big City Mayors with populations of over 100,000 residents in Ontario.

Mayor Cam Guthrie, City of Guelph is the current Chair of the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario.

LUMCO’s main objective is to support and enhance strong and effective large urban governments. LUMCO considers matters of specific interest to its member municipalities and takes united action on matters where rights, services or programs of its member municipalities may be affected.

LUMCO advances the standards of municipal government through public policy development, advocacy and discussion. LUMCO ultimately represents and expresses the large urban municipal viewpoint within AMO and to other authorities and levels of Government.

LUMCO is formed by 28 member municipalities: Ajax, Barrie, Brampton, Brantford, Burlington, Cambridge, Chatham-Kent, Greater Sudbury, Guelph, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Markham, Milton,  Mississauga, Oakville, Oshawa,, Ottawa, Pickering, Richmond Hill, St. Catharines, Thunder Bay, Toronto, Vaughan, Waterloo, Whitby, Windsor

A Brief Footnote from Niagara At Large reporter and publisher Doug Draper –

To all of those out there who may hope or believe that Ontario’s  Ford Government’s cut to services at the provincial level will be a gain for them in the pocketbook – as per the premier, Doug Ford’soft-repeated  boast that he is “putting more money back in your pocket” – it is important to keep the following in mind.

To the extent that the e costs for transit, libraries, flood management, ambulances and many other services are being downloaded on municipalities,they will come back to haunt residents and businesses in higher property taxes. And increases in property taxes, unlike increases in income taxes, it people on lower and fixed incomes, including seniors on pensions, the most.

Ironically, many of the people who get hurt the most by a need to increase property taxes to make up for cuts at the provincial level will be people who voted for Ford Conservatives in the June 2018 provincial elections.

Perhaps those Ford voters ought to be the last to complain about any cuts to services they may want or need, or to any increase in their property taxes due to provincial downloading. They should have known it was coming.

– Doug Draper

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“A politician thinks of the next election. A leader thinks of the next generation.” – Bernie Sanders

2 responses to “Ontario’s Ford Government is Downloading Costs for Services on Municipalities and their Ratepayers

  1. Stasia Sopotyk

    Ford fancys himself a Mike Harris “mini me”. He’s just far more devious.
    History repeating itself.

    Like

  2. gary screaton page

    It’s a no brainer. By offloading provincial costs onto municipalities, Ford gets to claim he is lowering taxes. In fact, he is just making us pay closer to home. We are not fooled, however! Tax is tax at any level. Moving costs from one pocket to another doesn’t help taxpayers.
    If Mr. Ford would have more open hiring, more rational approaches to putting the right people in the right job and not moving his friends into well-paying jobs, some real tax savings might be achieved. Our “Trump of the North” is just as self-interested as the one to the South. Instead of making meaningful change by taxing those who can most afford it — he may be one — he is offloading to cities what should be provincial responsibilities, grabbing from Toronto the subway lines, and hurting the most vulnerable in our province. Ford didn’t get to be mayor of Toronto, so now he is trying to run it from Queen’s Park.
    By the way, Mr. Ford, how are your sister-in-law’s financing working out? We haven’t heard since the election. She suggested you needed to make some adjustments there.

    Like

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