Western wardens caucus seeking review of provincial fiscal partnership

The Western Ontario Wardens Caucus is joining the Association of Municipalities of Ontario in calling on the province to review its fiscal partnership as part of the upcoming budget.

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In early January, AMO highlighted the need for a social and economic prosperity review as part of its pre-budget submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.

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“We support and amplify the call by AMO for a review of the provincial-municipal fiscal framework. This review is critical to address the outdated financial arrangements burdening municipalities, ensure fairness for taxpayers, and enable crucial investments in infrastructure and social services, not just in western Ontario but provincewide,” said Glen McNeil, warden caucus chair, in a release.

“It’s time for meaningful change, one that supports the well-being and prosperity of our municipalities and all Ontarians, requiring collaborative efforts between local governments and the province for its achievement.”

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The organizations maintain that the fiscal framework municipalities currently rely on to deliver infrastructure and services is broken, with municipal revenues not growing with the economy or inflation.

Last adjusted in 2008, the organizations say new realities, including growth pressures, inflation and interest rates, social challenges and provincial policy decisions are “pushing municipalities to the brink.”

As Ontario grows, “major investment in essential municipal infrastructure is required to achieve the province’s ambitious target of building 1.5 million new homes by 2031,” they added.

However, they cite that Bill 23 created a $1 billion annual hole in municipalities’ ability to fund this new infrastructure.

“Ontarians expect governments to work together and respect tax dollars,” AMO president Colin Best said in the release.

“Local governments need help to address affordability, invest in infrastructure and the economy, and tackle social challenges like increasing homelessness. Working together, AMO believes that the province and municipalities can build a better Ontario.”

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