TORONTO – The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is pleased that the Government of Ontario announced Monday that it will reverse mid-year cuts to critical services of public health, child care and ambulance services. A local municipal leader said Island municipalities and those organizations providing critical services need to know what is coming in terms of funding and cuts.
“I don’t know how the province expected any municipality to find out about funding cuts in the budget half-way through the year,” stated Ken Noland, chair of the Manitoulin Municipal Association. “And we need to know now from the province what is coming next year. Don’t wait until next May, we need the actual (dollar) numbers now.”
Fern Dominelli, CAO of the Manitoulin-Sudbury District Services Board (DSB) said the provincial announcement, “sounds like great news. It sounds as if they are backing off on the cuts for this year.” He said the DSB has still not received word on funding for First Nations and TWOMO (Territory Without Municipal Organization) for this year.
“AMO appreciates that the province took an important and difficult step today,” said AMO President Jamie McGarvey in a release. “We appreciate the additional time to sit together and find solutions that will work for both partners and protect services. We are glad to have that opportunity.”
The provincial funding cuts were particularly challenging given that they fell six months into municipal budgets, AMO pointed out.
“We know it isn’t business as usual,” Mr. McGarvey added. “Municipal governments have been delivering these services for many years. We are pleased that the premier and Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark want to tap into our expertise and problem solve together.”
While the province has backed down on retroactive funding cuts to municipalities, including child care, public health and ambulance services, future cuts will go ahead as planned.
Premier Doug Ford said he heard from municipalities that they could find savings in their own budgets, but they needed more time to do so.
“We’ve come up with a conclusion that we’re going to work together,” Mr. Ford is quoted as saying by the Canadian Press. “We’re going to maintain the funding throughout this year. Every mayor I talked to said they can find savings. So, that’s good news. But they said they needed more runway.”