Insufficient Provincial grants costing the City millions

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Shortfalls in provincial grants to Sault Ste. Marie are falling millions of dollars short and burdening the City with social services costs City Council agrees cannot be sustained.

Council Tuesday night unanimously approved a resolution calling for Queen’s Park and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) to conduct a comprehensive social and economic review to promote sustainable municipal finances across the province.

Ward 2 Councillor Like Dufour, who is council’s AMO rep, tabled the motion which was seconded by Ward 1 Coun. Sandra Hollingsworth.

Dufour says Queen’s Park and cities – through AMO – have to examine the current system and find ways to stabilize it.                                                                                            

He says there is no way property taxes can cover mounting costs for mental health services nor infrastructure enhancements to accommodate new residents over the next five to 10 years.

“This motion…it really cuts to the core a lot of the conversations that we have around this table, especially at budget time,” Dufour told council. “We recognize the constrained nature of our constituents’ budgets and our dependence on property taxes. 

We are always laser-focused on how we can save as much money as we can,” continued Dufour. “The reality of these conversations is that under the current fiscal framework in Ontario, those kinds of conversations are futile, on a systemic lens. When we zoom out and look at the big picture in our community and across this whole province, there is no feasible way that property taxes are going to pay for the things that our communities require.”

Council’s resolution says roughly 30 per cent of municipal spending across Ontario is for services that are the responsibility of the province, with expenditures outpacing provincial contributions by nearly $4 billion a year.

“We talked about other municipalities in Ontario, that have more tools, more revenue generating tools,” said Coun. Hollingsworth. “We have seen it over and over again, there is a lot of disparity. There’s a lot of inequality, which is not right. The downloading continues.”

Ward 3 Coun. Angela Caputo took exception to some recent remarks from Ontario Premier Doug Ford on Instagram regarding municipal taxation.

“‘Politicians should start giving people relief, like we have,’ and ‘municipal government needs to stop gouging you for taxes.’” said Caputo, recalling Ford’s comments. “That’s a really interesting perspective for the Premier to take when he is continually downloading things on to the municipal government. We have no choice but to tax people at a municipal level to continue the levels of service that folks need.

I was very disappointed to hear that from the Premier,” said Caputo. “When he talks about politicians, he should recognize he himself is a politician who needs to collect funds from the folks here in Ontario to continue to keep things going.”

Sault Mayor Shoemaker says the provincial grants fall millions of dollars short of what the City receives – and spends – for social services.

“That is something that has grown over the years and continues to grow…and the reason why the province is in such good fiscal shape, because of the downloads that are being imposed on municipalities. Definitely an issue, and a push that I support.”

Coun. Dufour said similar Queen’s Pak-AMO reviews have been held before with the most recent in 2008.

“This motion calls upon the province to start to work with cities through AMO, to start having that more systemic conversation,” said Dufour. “That is a conversation that quite frankly, is overdue.”

One thought on “Insufficient Provincial grants costing the City millions

  1. It must make them extra proud to have spent tens of millions of vital dollars that (they couldn’t afford in the first place), that were badly needed elsewhere on a long dead downtown area that is largely inhabited by deadbeats junkies and thieves, and continue to burn money on it like drunken sailors while the city goes all the way down the crapper.
    A very typical performance by the out of touch with reality irresponsible city hall misfits, and another horrible decision to add to a long list of costly errors.

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