October 30, 2019
Earlier this year, our government launched a review of Ontario’s regional governments, including Halton Region and its municipalities. In this review, our government wanted to find out the opinion of local residents about how their municipal governments could work better. How they could be more streamlined, provide better services and respect taxpayers’ dollars.
The review, as the Municipal Affairs Minister stated, had no predetermined outcomes and the government had said that amalgamation was not the purpose of the review. We wanted to know what the people thought – another example of our government listening to views of Ontarians before making policy changes.
This review, though, led to many people being concerned about the possibility of amalgamation. People in Oakville and Burlington, in my riding, told me that their municipalities worked well – that they didn’t need change.
I made sure the government knew what my constituents thought – through petitions tabled in the Legislature and by working with my colleague MPP Stephen Crawford making sure the review – and the Minister – heard. And just last week, the Ontario government listened to the people in our community and made it clear: there will be no amalgamation of Halton municipalities.
So what changes will the Ontario Government make in response to this review?
The government is going to renew the Municipal Modernization Program – with up to $125 million over four years. The government will renew Audit and Accountability funding for 39 large urban municipalities. They will have access to up to $6 million annually over the next three fiscal years.
We will also consult with municipalities on aligning the municipal fiscal year with the province’s and start the process of consolidating the municipal voters list with the Chief Elections Office of Ontario, removing this burden from municipalities.
The province will continue to partner with municipalities to help ensure they have effective local governance and decision making and will not force changes on municipalities.
Our government was elected with a mandate to create jobs, respect taxpayers’ money and provide quality services. I know that our municipal governments have the same goals, and the best way to meet these goals is as the city of Burlington and the town of Oakville.