The City of Hamilton is still feeling the negative financial impacts of the provincial download that began in the late 1990’s. Everyone knows that fiscal challenges for the city were created by changes to the delivery and funding of social assistance, child care, land ambulance, social housing, public health and court security.
Those costs have increased each year, limiting the city’s ability to provide essential municipal services desperately needed in our community. That includes addressing our infrastructure requirements. In 2007, the gross cost of these programs amounts to approximately $150 million.
Significant funding is needed for Hamilton’s social housing deficiency. At the time of downloading, many of the social housing structures required millions of dollars in repairs and renovations. Because the deficiency was so large, the city could not afford to cover these exorbitant costs.
Over time, costs in downloaded programs have been driven up as a result of provincial policy changes, inflation, wage settlements, growing service demands, increasing client service needs, and aging infrastructure.
The province has already committed to upload some of these costs, but the planned phase-in approach means the people of Hamilton will not begin to notice much tax relief for another two to three years.
The provincial government could do the right thing by uploading all of these costs immediately. That would translate into a reduction of $425 (17%) on the average municipal household tax bill.
The Fairness to Hamilton Committee understands that the downloading of social services has not been the root cause of each one of Hamilton’s financial problems. The download is a heavy shackle and a major hurdle to clear, and while it’s easy to fall into the trap of harping about the negative aspects of our great city, it’s much easier to harness our challenges and view them as the perfect storm of opportunity.
Economic development, education, and new opportunities are being created thanks to the new Hamilton economy. We are focused on an urban renaissance - the emerging downtown-waterfront district and its ongoing renewal and revitalization. We also need to ensure that there is room at the table for every single person with a stake in the City of Hamilton, and we can do that through collaboration, cooperation, and consensus.
We’re already off to an impressive start. Now, it’s up to the leaders and members of all provincial and federal political parties to acknowledge the deficiencies in Hamilton. We’re asking them to commit to working together with us to revitalize and renew our City and allow this jewel to transform into the newest World Class City on the Canadian landscape. The first step is to bring back fairness to Hamilton.
What is Hamilton asking for during the 2008 Federal Election?
The City of Hamilton's strategic priorities for consideration during the 2008 Federal Election Campaign. Read the document and accompanying cover letter.
What did Hamilton asked for in the 2008 Provincial Budget?
For more information on the Fairness to Hamilton Committee, click here.
For more detailed research on the impact of downloading on Hamilton, please see the following Committee Report.
To return to the Fairness to Hamilton homepage, click here.