The Ontario government joined hundreds of municipal officials for a successful virtual 2020 Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference this week. It demonstrated the critical partnership between the province and municipalities and the willingness to work towards a safe and strong economic recovery.
Premier Doug Ford, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Ministers, Associate Ministers and Parliamentary Assistants held virtual meetings with more than 480 municipal delegations. They discussed topics ranging from infrastructure, broadband and transit to health care and supports for vulnerable populations.
“As we have all come together as a province in the fight against COVID-19, municipalities have faced unprecedented challenges and risen to every single one,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “I want to thank our municipal partners for everything they’ve done to keep our communities safe throughout the pandemic. Their success is Ontario’s success, and we will continue working hand in hand with AMO and its members so every community can come back stronger than before.”
During the conference, Premier Ford announced that Ontario will maintain the structure of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) for 2021. The OMPF is the province’s general assistance grant to municipalities.
In addition, the government announced further support for public health units as they continue to respond to COVID-19 across the province, by investing approximately $47 million in one-time mitigation funding for both the 2020 and 2021 calendar years. This funding will ensure that municipalities do not experience any impacts as a result of the change to the 70 per cent provincial and 30 per cent municipal cost-sharing for public health units that came into effect in January.
The Ontario government is also providing $77 million in additional funding to support paramedic services and dispatch centres, and increasing its funding to the Land Ambulance Service Grant by five per cent in 2020/21. This is in addition to a four per cent increase last year.
Last week, Ontario announced municipal, transit and Social Services Relief Fund allocations under a historic federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement which provides Ontario’s municipalities with up to $4 billion in phased emergency assistance. Municipalities will receive up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of funding.
This includes $212 million in new funding for the Social Services Relief Fund, which is provided to municipal service managers and Indigenous housing partners to help protect vulnerable people from COVID-19. The funding will help service providers protect homeless shelter staff and residents, expand rent support programming and create longer-term housing solutions. This brings the government’s total Social Services Relief Fund investment provided to service managers and Indigenous program administrators to $510 million and builds on our COVID-19 Action Plan to Protect Vulnerable Ontarians.
“Municipalities have been on the front line of the COVID-19 emergency since the beginning and have gone to remarkable lengths to keep communities safe, maintain key services, and safeguard the economy,” said outgoing AMO President Jamie McGarvey. “With the support from the governments of Ontario and Canada, municipal governments will lead the economic recovery in every part of the province, in partnership with public and private enterprises, large and small.” Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has taken decisive action tokeep Ontarians safe and to support individuals, families and businesses. By continuing to work closely with municipalities, the province is charting a path to a strong recovery and getting Ontario back on track.