Each year, property taxes in most municipalities–Mississauga included–increase as towns and cities work to maintain and improve transit, infrastructure and services.
Now, however, the Region of Peel–which includes Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon–is warning that property taxes could climb quickly as the region grapples with major cuts to crucial services at the provincial level.
The Region recently said that $6.1 million in provincial cuts to health services could impact their property tax rates and the delivery of paramedic and public health services–two services that have been cut by the embattled Progressive Conservative government.
“Everyone appreciates the province’s goal of balancing the budget, and I believe that in public service it is always worthwhile to look for ways of doing things more efficiently – it’s how we operate our regional government,” said Regional Chair Nando Iannicca in a statement.
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“However, it is unfair and unproductive to ask municipal ratepayers to carry the burden of provincial deficit reduction and I would question whether public health and paramedic services should be a target for such significant cuts that could impact service.”
The region says the provincial government has already cut $4.9 million from Peel Paramedic Services and $1.2 million from Peel Public Health, with more cuts promised in the future.
Public Health inspects local restaurants for food safety, tests local pools for health risks, tracks immunizations to make sure school-aged kids are protected from dangerous diseases, checks that stores are not selling cigarettes to young people and more.
The region says that Peel paramedics respond to one local health emergency every four minutes, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Earlier this year, the province indicated its intention to merge Peel Public Health with three other health units, covering 2.7 million people. Integrating paramedic services in the province has also been discussed.
The changes to healthcare services aren’t unexpected, as the government revealed plans to streamline services earlier in 2018. Last month, the Ontario government announced that it had eliminated over 400 administrative health care positions in a bid to reorganize six health agencies and 14 local health integration networks (LHINs).
In addition to the 14 LHINs, the government is moving several agencies under the single roof of Ontario Health, including Cancer Care Ontario, eHealth Ontario, Health Quality Ontario, Health Shared Services Ontario, Trillium Gift of Life Network and HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment Agency.
The province argues that too many services are being duplicated under the current model, but the region is concerned that the changes will affect the level of care that residents have grown accustomed to.
While the region says residents could see increased property taxes, it also suggests that if provincial plans for mergers go forward, Peel residents could pay more for services that are less responsive to local needs.
“Peel is one of the fastest-growing and most diverse regions in Ontario, with almost 10 per cent of the province’s population and rising,” said Caledon Councillor Johanna Downey, Chair of the Health Section of Peel Regional Council.
“By 2041, there will be 2 million people in Peel. We’ve been preparing for that future and investing in the quality and efficiency of our local paramedic and public health services so that they are designed to meet the unique needs of our communities. Residents should be concerned with these plans to combine our services with places as far away as St. Jacob’s and Waterloo.”
For more info on the region’s concerns, click here.