Premier Doug Ford has recently announced that there will be no cuts to public health, child care and land ambulance across Ontario this year.
Recently, the Ford government cut funding for Early years/childcare programs by $6.1 million, housing and homeless programs by $1.3 million, prisoner Transport by $600,000, natural Hazards Funding by $700,000 and Metrolinx Funding for Smart Commute by $300,000. Earlier this year, the Ontario government also planned to merge the 59 local ambulance services and public health units in Ontario into just 10 units.
After many protests, the government has chosen to hold the cuts.
Today, Ford wrote a letter to the municipal mayors stating that the provincial government will maintain support for the services.
- COVID cases remain steady across Halton
- Four dead in COVID-19 cases recorded at retirment homes in Burlington and Oakville
- Many businesses sourcing product domestically due to pandemic
“Having spent time at the city level I also understand that, with municipal budgets already set for the 2019-20 fiscal year, our partners need to have flexibility to achieve those savings. Our government has made the decision to maintain the in-year cost-sharing adjustments for land ambulance, public health and child care services,” wrote Ford in the letter.
Ford has been under fire for making many cuts to education, health and other services without speaking to municipal mayors.
In May, the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario or LUMCO released a statement about the Ford government and its proposed funding cuts. LUMCO is comprised of big-city mayors such as Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown, Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Milton Mayor Gordon Krantz, Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie and Oakville Mayor Rob Burton. In the statement, they write “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.”
The provincial government stated that they made many cuts to services as a way to manage Ontario’s large and ever-growing debt.
“Our government was elected to clean up Ontario’s financial nightmare that was created by 15 years of mismanagement and irresponsible actions on the part of the Liberals. The $15 billion annual deficit and $347 billion long-term debt they left to our children and grandchildren is a direct threat to critical public services the people of Ontario rely on,” said Ford in the letter.
Ford is still pushing municipalities to find efficiencies. Recently, the Ontario government committed $7.35 million, through the Audit and Accountability Fund, to help large municipalities find four cents on every dollar to find efficiencies. They have also provided $200 million to small and rural municipalities to modernize services that will help the government meet objectives in order to fix the debt problem.
According to the letter, Minister Clark advised taking the approach so Ontario’s municipalities can have additional time to work with the Government of Ontario find efficiencies that will help with Ontario’s debt.
“It is reassuring for me to hear that municipalities understand the fiscal challenges we face, but more importantly they understand that we face these challenges together,” concludes the letter signed by Ford.
Many municipality mayors have spoken out about the provincial cuts; however, they have yet to comment on this development.