LONDON — The Ontario government reaffirmed its commitment to work in partnership with municipalities to strengthen communities and support vital public services during the virtual 2021 Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference this week.
Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Ministers, Associate Ministers and Parliamentary Assistants held virtual meetings with hundreds of municipal officials. They discussed key issues including housing affordability, broadband expansion, and how the province will continue to support municipalities and keep communities safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“Continuing our strong, collaborative partnerships with municipalities is a priority for our government,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “I want to thank all our municipal partners for everything they continue to do to keep Ontarians safe. We are proud to support municipalities by ensuring they have the resources they need to build strong, resilient communities.”
Investing in Local Public Services
During the conference, Minister Clark announced that Ontario plans to invest nearly $1.1 billion to enhance the province’s housing programs and support homeless populations in 2022-23. In addition, he announced additional funding under the Social Services Relief Fund for a total support to communities of over $1 billion in 2020-2021.
Minister Clark also announced that Ontario is providing more than $57 million to launch a third intake of the Municipal Modernization Program and Audit and Accountability Fund, building on the previous success of these programs. By providing funding to municipalities to identify and implement projects that modernize, digitize, and improve local services, Ontario is making life more convenient and affordable for families and businesses.
Supporting Public Health Units
Ontario’s public health system has demonstrated remarkable responsiveness to COVID-19 and the government acknowledges the extraordinary and continuing efforts of the public health sector to stop the spread of COVID-19 as well as support the roll-out of Ontario’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
To further support public health units as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ontario government is investing approximately $47 million to extend one-time mitigation funding through 2022. This funding will provide continued support for public health units and municipalities beyond the funding approved in previous years and will ensure that they have the financial stability needed to protect communities across the province and deliver key services. This funding is in addition to the increased investments to support the public health sector’s response to COVID-19.
“Throughout the pandemic, Ontario’s municipalities and public health units have been on the frontlines of Ontario’s pandemic response,” said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. “To ensure that our communities are prepared to respond to any scenario as we head into the fall, our government is providing public health units with one-time mitigation funding so they can continue delivering key services to protect the health and safety of residents.”
Maintaining the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund
The Ontario government is also providing municipalities with stability and certainty by maintaining the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) at $500 million, as well as the overall structure of the program, for 2022.
The OMPF provides unconditional funding to 389 municipalities across the province that can be used to support the local priorities and specific needs of each community. The government will provide details on individual municipal funding allocations for 2022 well in advance of the municipal budget year so that municipalities have appropriate time to plan their budgets.
“Our government heard loud and clear from our municipal partners that stability is a priority, especially in these uncertain times,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “That’s why we are pleased to announce that we are maintaining the program structure of the OMPF for next year, so it can continue to meet the needs of local communities by providing stable financial support that they can count on.”
“The AMO Conference was an important opportunity for the Government of Ontario, and for municipal governments from every part of the province, to come together and work together,” said AMO President Graydon Smith, Mayor of Bracebridge. “Municipalities deliver many of the services that people and businesses rely on most. We serve Ontario’s residents best when our two orders of government can meet, solve challenges and create opportunities to make Ontario’s diverse communities stronger.”