May 21 2019
HAMILTON, ON – Premier Doug Ford’s call for municipalities to cut their budgets in-year by four per cent shows a lack of consideration for municipal budgets. Hamilton does multi-year budgeting. We already do line by line scrutiny to find efficiencies, we are spending smarter, we are modernizing services and eliminating duplications and have done so for years. We have had the lowest tax increases in the province, at or below the rate of inflation for the past six years. That means we have found efficiencies to meet the ever-increasing demand for services.
The biggest threat to Hamilton’s budget is the in-year cuts being inflicted by Doug Ford’s government with no prior consultation.
The Ford government’s haphazard approach means local taxpayers face cuts to services or property tax increases or both.
We are provincially mandated to deliver certain services such as police, public health, ambulance services, fire services, roads and funding for conservation authorities. We have complained about provincial downloading to municipalities for years. At the same time, we are committed to our collective agreement with City employees. Our ability to do the kind of cuts Premier Ford is suggesting would mean cuts to services that people rely on or significant tax increases. Every eight million dollars of additional costs results in a one-per-cent property tax increase.
Suggesting that the province is bankrupt is at best inaccurate and at worst hurting Ontario’s reputation and therefore bad for our economy.
All this being said, I am willing to work with Premier Ford on finding efficiencies but under the following conditions: Stop the surprises, stop cutting public health, stop cutting ambulance services, and let’s work together.
I stand with Toronto Mayor John Tory in his call to work together in a collaborative and coordinated way that better serves the people of Ontario than the approach we have seen so far.