All County, All the Time Since 2010 MAKE THIS YOUR PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY HOME...PAGE!  Tuesday, May 21st, 2024

Eastern Ontario wardens reflect on concerns; thankful for provincial and federal funding

PEC Mayor Steve Ferguson with MPPs and members of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus.

Concerns in Prince Edward County were mirrored by members of the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) at a meeting with MPPs last week.

Affordable housing, cellular and mobile networks, health care, emergency services and financial impacts on municipal service delivery were all topics at the meeting.

Co-hosted by EOWC Chair Andy Letham and MPP Todd Smith (also Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade), the meeting is an annual gathering of MPPs and heads of councils from across the region.

“The EOWC recognizes the province’s support for our number-one priority, being the improvement and expansion of the cellular and mobile broadband networks in Eastern Ontario,” said Letham. “And we thank our MPPs for their efforts in securing the province’s recent $71-million contribution to the project.”

The meeting provided an opportunity for the EOWC to update MPPs on its recent advocacy work, including submissions to the province on red-tape reductions and regulatory burdens for affordable housing and long-term care.

The wardens also highlighted the impacts of the province’s recent budget amendments on municipal service delivery, including paramedic services, child care, Ontario Works, and public health units. Premier Doug Ford announced today the government would give municipalities more time to find ways to reduce costs on their own – backing off the retroactive downloading of costs for 2019 and plan for a leaner 2020.

“We realize that the Province of Ontario has set important efficiency goals for itself and for the municipal sector, in order to achieve specific financial targets in the coming years,” added Letham. “The EOWC acknowledges the government’s intentions, and we reiterated the value and importance of having our voices around the discussion table – namely, to provide a local perspective that is well-researched and well-respected.”

The Wardens asked for clarity on the province’s current priorities, and specifically how the EOWC could contribute its unique insight on governance, structure and funding models.

Prince Edward County Mayor Steve Ferguson said the caucus appreciates the province wants to be a true partner that listens to the needs of communities while ensuring financial sustainability for both the province and municipalities.

“Rural Eastern Ontario municipalities want to work with the province to achieve its goals while at the same time maintaining the quality of services we provide to our residents.”

The EOWC also used the opportunity to welcome the federal government’s financial commitment to local government in the 2019 budget, released last month. The budget included an increase in funding for rural municipal priorities that align with the EOWC, including affordable housing, rural broadband, energy efficiency and infrastructure investment.
Among them:

– A one-time $2.2 billion top-up to the Federal Gas Tax Fund that doubles funding to municipal governments this year;
– A $2.7-billion investment for rural and northern broadband expansion, with the objective of connecting all Canadians to high-speed internet by 2030;
– An additional $1 billion to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to help municipalities invest in energy efficiency, including $350 million for grants and loans for large public buildings, and $300 million to improve energy efficiency within sustainable affordable housing.
– Funding initiatives to help increase housing affordability, including the expansion of the – Rental Housing Construction Finance Incentive to provide low interest loans for affordable rental construction projects.

Filed Under: Local News

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