Search form


Become a Member Today Sign Up

AMO Conference Briefing 2019

AMO Conference Briefing 2019

The annual Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Conference wrapped up in Ottawa on August 21st. With Ontario’s municipalities waiting eagerly for major funding and regulatory decisions to be announced by the Province, the conference brought answers on some files but provoked new questions for others. From the regional government review to funding announcements for ICIP and land ambulance services, there was no shortage of important discussions underway at AMO. 2,000 municipal delegates were in attendance with more than 600 delegation meetings taking place with Ontario’s Cabinet Ministers and support staff.

AMO President, Mayor McGarvey of Parry Sound, made the case to the province for further engagement with municipal leaders as the elected representatives working on the ‘front-lines’ in Ontario. “To be frank, we believe that greater cooperation with Ontario’s municipal governments can help the Ontario government achieve more. We are worth talking to” said McGarvey. In response, Premier Doug Ford stated, “Our government’s relationship with Ontario’s municipalities is incredibly important to us – as the level of government closest to the people.”

To help Ontario’s municipal leaders navigate the announcements coming out of the AMO Conference, and make sense of the changes still to come from the province, PSD’s research team has compiled the following brief synopsis of provincial-municipal developments in Ontario.

Funding announcements

ICIP

Premier Ford announced the third intake for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) - the Community, Culture, Recreation Stream – opening Sept 3rd. Ontario municipalities will be able to apply for funding to help cover the costs of a new arena or a community centre rehabilitation. Projects will be selected by the Province to be nominated for approval by the Federal Government for cost sharing. 350 projects have already been nominated by the Ontario Government for the first two streams of ICIP (Rural & Northern Stream and Public Transit Stream). (Applications for the Public Transit Stream are still be accepted until October 24th, 2019). The fourth and final ICIP stream – the Green Stream - will open this fall. The Minister of Infrastructure confirmed that the earlier municipalities get their nominations in the better.

Broadband

$350 million was already announced for expanding broadband coverage in Ontario by leveraging private sector investment. The Province announced that it is looking for additional ideas from municipalities to bring broadband to rural areas.

OMPF

The province announced at AMO that it will not change the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) formula for 2020, meaning that the previously announced cuts will move ahead. The OMPF is the Province's main general assistance grant to municipalities. Cuts to the OMPF are capped at 15% for municipalities for 2020.

Land Ambulance Services

Of great concern for Ontario municipalities is the threat of funding cuts to land ambulance services. Minister Elliot confirmed at AMO that funding will not be reduced for land ambulance services in 2019. Funding is to increase by 4% (on average) in 2019 and to increase again in 2020. Funding letters are about to go out to Ontario municipalities.

Public Health

One of the biggest changes coming to provincial-municipal funding relations in Ontario is to public health. The province announced that Ontario’s public health funding model will change to a 70/30 split – 70% provincial funding and 30% municipal - for public health units as of Jan 1, 2020. This is a change from the existing 75/25 cost sharing model, and in some cases, the province currently funds 100% of some programs like “Smoke Free Ontario.” Transitional funding will be offered for municipalities who have an increase of their contribution that is greater than 10%. Renewed community consultations will start this fall regarding the possibility of amalgamating public health units into fewer regional centres.

OCIF

The Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund (OCIF) is a key source of infrastructure funding for Ontario municipalities. Previously, this fund was allocated annually in part via a formula and in part through an application in-take. The Ontario Government cancelled the application in-take from 2018 and allocated the formula funding for 2019 as previously announced. What is still unclear is whether the formula funding will continue past 2020 and if so, whether the formula will change. The formula-based funding can be used for both infrastructure projects and asset management capacity building, including asset management software and consulting services. Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure announced at AMO that OCIF is still under review as the Province consults with municipalities on the effectiveness of the program. More details are expected soon.

Provincial Gas Tax

The review of the Provincial Gas Tax Fund is still underway. Minister Mulroney says the province will continue working with AMO to review the current funding process for the Provincial Gas Tax to see if there is a formula that provides better consistency for municipalities. Again, more details to come on the results of this review.

MAMP

Stephanie Levine from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) provided an update on the Municipal Asset Management Program (MAMP). To help build asset management maturity and capacity at the local level, in 2017 the Federal Government provided FCM with a $50 million investment to fund MAMP. Through a rolling application in-take, Canada’s municipalities received direct funding from FCM to support their asset management initiatives. The Federal Government announced in Budget 2019 that it would be providing FCM with new funding through the Municipal Asset Management Capacity Fund (MAMCF). This new $60 million fund will be allocated over the next five years. Over 700 applications have been received to date for the MAMP program, with Quebec municipalities being the latest to apply. Funding will reopen “soon” but FCM wants to look at those on the MAMP wait list first as some municipalities applied for funding but missed the cut-off to submit applications. FCM is also continuing to consult the sector to see if the funding program should be tweaked in any way.

Click here to sign up to receive grant funding notifications from the PSD research team and to access our up-to-date digital inventory of grant funding opportunities for Ontario municipalities. 

Legislation & Regulations

Bill 108, More Homes, More Choice Act

Bill 108 has significant changes for many areas of municipal government. Proposed changes will mean that Ontario municipalities will have to plan for and collect development charges differently, with a new Community Benefits Charge being introduced for “soft services” like libraries or parks. The Province is continuing its consultation process in order to determine the final formula for CBCs, which will then inform the final regulation put in place.

Bill 108 also means big changes for Conservation Authorities in Ontario. The Province’s concern is the lack of transparency and accountability for CAs and the duplication of work with municipalities. Consultation continues on this front.

Finally, as part of the review of planning practices in Ontario, the government plans on next reviewing the Provincial Policy Statement (PPS). Municipalities must align their official plans with the PPS and are often asked to explain in grant applications how their proposed infrastructure projects align with the PPS.

Regional Government Review

The Province received 8,500 submissions as part of its consultation process for the regional government review. As a result of the high volume of feedback, the Province has delayed reporting on the results of the review. They say they are now confident that the report - currently being prepared by Special Advisors Ken Seiling and Michael Fenn - will be ready for the fall. This review may have significant implications for regional municipalities and their lower tier counterparts in Ontario.

Change in AMO leadership

Long-time Executive Director of AMO, Pat Vanini, gave her farewell address as she sets to retire. AMO’s new ED, Brian Rosborough, introduced himself at the conference coming to AMO from Laurier University.