August 2021
2021 AMO Conference Highlights

2021-08-19 8:43:47 AM


Another year, another virtual AMO Conference! AMCTO attended the 2021 AMO Conference and are pleased to share that we had productive delegations with Minister Steve Clark, Minister Ross Romano and Parliamentary Assistant Michael Parsa.  

Ministers' Forums

Like last year, the ‘Bear Pit’ was divided up with three Ministers’ Forums organized by theme. The themes were “Strengthening Community Well-being with Health, Social Services and Education,” “Economic Recovery and Growth in Ontario,” and “Looking Ahead on the Environment, Infrastructure and Resource Development Post Covid.”  

Of note, this was the first AMO Conference since the spring cabinet shuffle. AMCTO even got a shout-out from Minister Romano on issues raised during our delegation with him where we advocated for updating the Municipal Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (MFIPPA), in particular the concerns our members have voiced on request volumes, frivolous and/or vexatious requests and harassment of municipal staff. We are looking forward to continuing this conversation with the Minister and his team.  

Delegates asked Minister Bethlanfalvy about municipal revenue tools, such as a municipal share of cannabis excise tax and reviewing the 'heads in beds' levy. When asked about restructuring, Minister Clark confirmed that he is not contemplating regional government changes at this time. We were glad to hear delegates raise important issues such as joint and several liability with Attorney General Doug Downey and digital government transformation with Associate Minister Kaleed Rasheed.  

Speeches

As usual, the conference included speeches from several members of Cabinet, including Premier Ford, Minister Clark, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott and Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma. Mostly the speeches recapped previous announcements, with Minister Surma also introducing herself for the first time to the delegates in this capacity.  

The Premier thanked municipal and regional governments for their partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic and with vaccine administration specifically. He highlighted investments in long-term care, health care and safe schools. He also reviewed commitments the Government has made respecting infrastructure, including the government’s plan to connect all Ontarians to high-speed internet and broadband.  

Minister Clark also began his remarks by thanking municipalities for their work and collaboration to keep communities safe. He announced that service managers will receive their allocations under the Social Services Relief Fund, at least an additional $50 million to small and rural municipalities under the Municipal Modernization Program, a third intake of the Audit and Accountability Fund, and a commitment to maintain the envelope and structure for the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund for another year. On the Government’s Code of Conduct Consultation, the Minister said that they received over 2600 submissions, and an update will be coming very soon (see AMCTO’s submission here).  

Opposition leaders had the opportunity to address the delegates. Andrea Horwath said she would offer municipalities a “new deal” and spoke of her commitment to transparency and partnership. Mike Schreiner called for a “green and caring recovery”, including a commitment to funding 50% of all shelter and community housing costs and 50% of transit operating costs. Steven Del Duca spoke about the need to redesign the provincial-municipal fiscal relationship, committing to an urgent review with everything on the table, including a municipal HST share.  


 


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