Advocacy Update: 2024 Provincial Budget

Date Published

On Tuesday, March 26, Minister Bethlenfalvy introduced 2024 Ontario Budget: Building a Better Ontario.

Similar to the 2023 budget, this year’s budget has two core pillars: Building Ontario, which includes actions to drive economic growth by investing in infrastructure and manufacturing; and Working for You, which includes keeping taxes and fees low while investing in training for workers and public services.

 Some investments that may be of interest to our members and the municipal sector include: 

  • $1 billion over three years for application-based Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program funding critical infrastructure projects such as roads and water infrastructure that support housing growth.  
  • An additional investment of $625 million over three years for the Housing Enabling Water Systems Fund to help municipalities repair, rehabilitate and expand drinking water, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure needed to build more homes. Municipalities must apply for this funding by April 19, 2024.
  • Investing $200 million over three years, beginning in 2024–25, for the new Community Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Fund to support new facilities and revitalize existing venues. 
  • Introducing $30 million over the next three years for the application-based Fire Protection Grant to support municipal fire services infrastructure and equipment. 
  • Launching the application-based Ontario Transit Investment Fund to provide $5 million annually to deliver local and intercommunity transportation projects, particularly in rural areas. 
  • Extending reduction of the gas tax by 5.7 cents per litre and fuel tax by 5.3 cents per litre from July 1, 2024 to December 31, 2024. 
  • Extending authority for single and upper-tier municipalities to impose a tax on vacant homes, along with a new provincial policy framework for implementation. 
  • Providing municipalities the option to offer a reduced municipal property tax rate on new multi‐residential rental properties. 

In our 2024 Pre-Budget Submission, we called on the Province to provide financial support for municipal budget shortfalls due to reductions in development charges and other financial impacts resulting from Bill 23. While this year's budget investments are meant to respond to our calls and those of other municipal organizations to make municipalities whole, this funding is likely insufficient to fully cover the cost of growth.

Through this budget, the government makes a number of multi-year investments and expands select funding opportunities, however there is no consideration for new funding arrangements or the Social and Economic Prosperity Review proposed by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). Earlier this year, we joined our colleagues at AMO in calling for the review, for a new approach to the provincial-municipal relationship that adjusts long-standing structural problems and a framework that promotes the stability and sustainability of municipal finances province-wide.

We were also hoping to see a commitment to supporting municipal efficiency and modernization through reduction of the municipal reporting burden and a re-start of the Municipal Modernization Program and Audit and Accountability Fund.

We will continue to monitor the budget bill, which includes details on the Building Ontario Fund, a previously announced $3 billion infrastructure bank, as it goes through the Legislative Assembly for potential impacts to our members. We will also be continuing to work with other associations like AMO to push forward the need for a joint review of municipal finance and government action on items to 'make municipalities whole' among fulfilling other policy commitments.

For more information, please contact us.