June 17, 2024
Municipalities are miffed because dealing with Ontario's deficit will affect them — but how could it not?
If local politicians want to serve taxpayers, they should help the province balance its budget, not portray modest cuts as the end of the world.
If local politicians want to serve taxpayers, they should help the province balance its budget, not portray modest cuts as the end of the world.

Ontario municipalities have won the first battle in the war over a slight reduction in provincial support — but don’t think they have done taxpayers any favours. When Premier Doug Ford postponed the planned cuts until next year, all that was accomplished was continuing to sustain municipal budgets with borrowed provincial money.

Toronto, Ottawa and the province’s smaller cities had a point when they said the timing of reducing their provincial grants for paramedics, public health and child care was unfair because they had already set their 2019 budgets. Ford should have understood that from the start, but he was right to back down and postpone the cuts until 2020.

One can debate the particulars of the municipal cuts the provincial government wants to make, but not the need to make them. The provincial deficit must be eliminated and that can’t be done without affecting municipalities. More than 90 cents of every dollar the province spends is directed to individuals or broader public sector players like municipalities. In all, Ontario’s municipalities get $8 billion in operating money from the province.

It can hardly be a surprise to mayors and councillors that the province’s financial troubles are going to affect them. They probably didn’t miss last year’s provincial election, where Ford won a majority promising to eliminate the deficit.

And really, who should understand the importance of that better than municipal politicians? They pride themselves on balancing their city budgets every year, even though they are required to do it by law.

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See Also:

(1) School boards ‘need to get their act together,’ says Doug Ford

(2) Trudeau Blasts Doug Ford’s Cuts In Campaign-Style Speech To Municipal Leaders

(3) Ford government’s housing bill facing growing resistance

(4) Ford Fest ’19 celebrates ‘hardworking people’: Doug Ford

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