Mississauga, ON: On Friday, October 25, Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark announced that the Province will no longer be pursuing its top-down approach to municipal and regional governance. It will no longer follow through on its promise to redraw municipal and regional boundaries in an effort to find efficiencies and reduce costs. Instead Queen’s Park is making up to $143-million available to municipalities across Ontario to assist them in finding ways to lower costs and improve services. This decision comes after months of consultation and after the province announced cuts for public health care units, child care, ambulance services and others.
Here is what MIRANET (Mississauga Residents’ Association Network) knows so far:
- Michael Fenn (former Ontario Deputy Minister) and Ken Seiling (former Waterloo Regional Chair) were appointed in January 2019 to review Ontario’s eight regional municipalities; Peel being one of them. These were paid appointments. How much did these appointments cost the taxpayers of Ontario?
- After ten months, 8,500 submissions, and nine consultation sessions with individuals and organizations to find ways to improve municipal and regional government, the Ford government has decided to halt this process and stay with the STATUS QUO. How much did this consultation process cost the taxpayers of Ontario?
- Regions and municipalities were left scrambling to respond, many being forced to hire expensive consultants working under tight deadlines to conduct their own analyses of the options. In the case of Mississauga and the Region of Peel almost $1-million was spent ($60,000 for a post card campaign by the Mayor’s Office; a $300,000 impact analysis by Deloitte for the Region of Peel; a $600,000 impact analysis by Ernst and Young). What was the total cost to the rest of the taxpayers across the province?
- Ratepayers’ Associations and special interest groups, like MIRANET, had to marshal their limited resources in a short period of time to craft their submissions to the Special Advisers. How much did their time and effort cost?
Does the $143-million being offered by the Provincial Government cover the costs of the consultation process as well as municipal budget cuts which have already been implemented? Also, we would like to see the results of the impact analysis as they may indicate efficiencies and cost savings that could help municipalities now. After all, we paid for this.
This government did not have a mandate to redraw municipal and regional boundaries; nor did it have a mandate to cut public service sector jobs. On the contrary, they promised no jobs would be lost. Perhaps it is time for the Regions and Municipalities of Ontario to renegotiate their legal relationship with the Province? While municipalities are creatures of the province, they are also the engines that drive its economy – any tinkering on the fly could make them seize up and stop working.