Minister Steve Clark’s Speech at the Association of Ontario Municipalities 2019 Conference

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Today, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, delivered the following remarks to delegates at the annual conference of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. Source

Good afternoon everyone. It’s great to be here …I love the energy of the AMO conference. Delegations are in full swing — almost 900 requests this year — another record-breaker!And I understand this is Pat Vanini’s last AMO conference … I’ve known Pat for many years and she has always been a tireless voice for municipalities across the province.And during my first year as Minister, Pat — along with Lynn Dollin and Jamie McGarvey — gave me and my Cabinet colleagues great advice on how we can work together with all of you.

Please join me in thanking Pat for everything she’s done over many years to support Ontario’s municipalities.I’d also like to acknowledge my parliamentary assistant for municipal affairs — Jim McDonell. And I’m pleased to introduce Parm Gill, who is my new parliamentary assistant for housing. It’s great to be here with so many of my Cabinet colleagues.

Several of them were here last August! And there are some new faces, too. We are here to listen to your ideas and concerns. To learn from you. And to answer your questions. Last August I told you that serving as Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing was my dream job and after a full year — I can tell you, that it still is! As a former mayor and CAO, I understand the challenges and opportunities you face. And as a former AMO president, I know how important the association is to its members and to government. Over the last year, of course, I’ve learned a lot. Including about AMO, Ontario’s 444 municipalities and how important it is that we continue to talk, listen and work together.

Things have been moving fast … but maintaining a strong relationship with AMO and all our municipal partners continues to be a top priority. On this stage last year, Lynn Dollin and I signed a new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). That was a proud moment.

But more important than any piece of paper, is that under that MOU, the province has had 11 AMO MOU meetings since then. Our government takes these meetings seriously. Seventeen Cabinet Ministers and six Parliamentary Assistants have come to the AMO MOU meetings — some of them more than once. And the government has brought 53 agenda items for a consultation to that table.

These discussions are confidential, but it’s no secret that some of them have been frank — and I think that’s a good thing. So, I want to thank the AMO Executive for their hard work and input. In addition to the AMO MOU table, we’re consulting with AMO and its members on a whole host of topics. For example, my ministry recently launched 140 days of consultation planned for this calendar year on changes to the Planning Act related to community benefits charges. We want the funds that municipalities recover from community benefits charges to be similar to what they’ve collected from development charges for discounted services, density bonusing and parkland dedication. To be clear — our goal is to maintain municipal revenues.

We launched a technical working group on community benefits charges that have already met twice, and we’ve posted information on the Environmental Registry of Ontario — so I would encourage you to give us your feedback through our consultation.I’m committed to ensuring that growth pays for growth.

And I understand how important it is for municipalities to have the resources they need to support complete communities — such as parks, daycares and more. The Premier was here yesterday, as you know, and his remarks and discussion at the recent AMO MOU table is a strong signal that our government is listening and wants to work in collaboration with our municipal partners. We have a plan to modernize programs to make them more sustainable.

We heard your concerns about the changes to the cost-sharing arrangements — and as the Premier announced — we will be providing you with transitional funding for public health and childcare for your budgeting process in 2020.

As Minister Elliott said yesterday, future changes will build in protections for municipal budgets. All municipal budgets.

On January 1, 2020, we’ll transition municipalities to a 70-30 cost-sharing funding model. That’s 70 for the province, and 30 for municipalities. And, in the first year, we’re going to ensure that no public health unit experiences an increase above 10 percent of current public health costs. That’s the protection we’ve built in to ease the transition. Some municipalities already contribute 30 percent or more — these municipalities will not be impacted.

We will also be maintaining in-year cost-sharing for land ambulances. In fact, Ontario will not be reducing funding to land ambulance services. Municipalities will receive an average of nearly four percent more in funding for the 2019 calendar year and will see an increase in 2020.

I’d like to thank my colleague Stephen Lecce for working tirelessly and advocating on your behalf since becoming the Minister of Education. Childcare funding will now be phased in over a three-year period starting in January 2020 — with the changes our partners have advised us will require the most lead time coming into effect last. We will continue to encourage municipalities to partner with us to support children and families in our communities, but we will also adjust the approach to cost-sharing Expansion Plan operating funding … by committing to provide 80 percent of this funding regardless of the municipal contribution.

All of this will give you more time to plan and find savings and efficiencies before the adjustments come into effect. Because of this approach, the government will be reinvesting $85.5 million back into childcare for 2020, and $36.5 million for 2021.

And as you may have heard in Minister Elliott’s plenary yesterday, our government will also launch renewed consultation with municipalities and our partners in public health and emergency health services this fall. This will be in addition to the work that’s being done at already-established technical tables. Through this consultation process, we will ensure that enough time is provided for thoughtful dialogue and implementation planning.

Read more on housing and homelessness statements here 

 

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