AMCTO at the 2023 AMO Conference

We were pleased to be back in the City of London this year taking part in the 2023 AMO conference. Between engaging with delegates at the tradeshow, meeting with provincial representatives at delegations meetings, participating in a panel presentation, and attending sessions and political speeches, found our participation productive across the board.  

Throughout the conference, our team had the opportunity to speak with many local government professionals highlighting our upcoming fall education and professional development opportunities, as well as learn from subject matter experts at concurrent and plenary sessions on housing, strong mayor powers, accessibility, leadership, and more.  We look forward to continuing these conversations.  

AMCTO Participates on Accessibility Panel  

President Stephen O’Brien was part of a panel that included Rich Donovan, 4th Independent Reviewer of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA), Megan Richards, Chair, Ontario Network of Accessibility Professionals and Kelly Paleczny, General Manager, London Transit Commission. Together they discussed progress towards an aspirational goal of an accessible Ontario by 2025 and what still need to be done including the need for the Province to provide more support and leadership in this space.   

Political Speeches 

This year’s AMO conference included speeches from the Government, including Premier Ford, Minister Clark, Minister Jones, and Minister Mulroney, opposition leaders Marit Stiles, John Fraser (interim), and Mike Schreiner, as well as the infamous ‘Bear Pit’ where delegates get to ask questions directly to political leaders.  

In her first speech to AMO delegates, NDP Leader Marit Stiles emphasized the importance of governing with accountability, integrity and ethics at the forefront, stating that “communities work when democracy works.” She reiterated the NDP’s commitment to building housing across the entire spectrum and their support for initiatives such as inclusionary zoning, stating that housing cannot be solved in silos and that when it comes to housing, “jurisdictional ping pong needs to end.”  

Liberal Party Leader John Fraser spoke to delegates about the range of issues that communities are facing, and that all issues come back to housing. He said that municipalities need a true partner in the province that makes it easier for communities to prosper. He also acknowledged his party’s leadership candidates, as this is the last time he will be addressing AMO delegates as interim leader.   

Finally, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner spoke about the need for legislation to strengthen municipal codes of conduct, as well as the need for strong communities rather than strong mayors. He emphasized the importance of protecting farmland and called on the government to repeal Bill 23.   

Deputy Premier and Health Minister Sylvia Jones announced that beginning January 1, 2024, the Province will restore annual base funding to public health units to $47 million, which is the level previously provided under the 75% provincial / 25% municipal cost-share ratio. She also announced that the Government will provide local public health units an annual 1% funding increase over the next three years, as well as one-time funding to public health units who voluntarily merge.   

Other Highlights and Observations 

AMO delegates heard from AMO President Colin Best who spoke about the importance of a new municipal financial framework, stating that municipalities are the only level of government who do not have their revenue grow from a growing economy.  

Delegates heard from the Hon. Catherine McKenna on Monday morning during her keynote address. She emphasized that municipalities are on the front lines facing challenges related to climate change and that, while there is a tough road ahead, municipalities also have incredible opportunities for innovation in the path towards climate mitigation and adaptation.  

Ontario Regional Chief Glen Hare discussed the importance of partnership between First Nations and other levels of government. He also talked about the importance of engaging with First Nations when it comes to the Greenbelt and called for a repeal of the Government’s decision to develop Greenbelt lands. A call for the resignation of Minister Clark was met by applause from the audience.  

AMO dedicated all sessions on Wednesday to the topic of homelessness. Of note, panelist Leilani Farha acknowledged the mental health burden of municipal staff when dealing with the challenges of the homelessness crisis.  

As always, the AMO conference provided us with an important opportunity to hear directly from Government decision makers, have important conversations with our members and other leaders in the municipal sector, and advance our advocacy priorities. For more information on AMCTO advocacy, check out our Advocacy and Submissions.