Blurred lines lead to unsustainable situations between province, municipalities

Smiths Falls Council discusses municipal finances and the call to action from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) during a Committee of the Whole meeting.
Posted on: February 13, 2024


During the Committee of the Whole meeting in Smiths Falls on Monday night, Chief Administrative Officer Malcolm Morris presented a call to action from the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO).

“Municipalities can’t fix the provincial social safety net,” AMO declared in the call to action, “property taxes weren’t built to fund systemic social change.”  Specifically, AMO asked the government to submit to a review of revenues, costs, and financial risks.

Lines have been blurred between the roles of the province and municipalities, said CAO Morris. Municipalities have been increasingly asked to fund healthcare, and this is not sustainable. 

Morris advised the town to support this call to action.

“We tend to get in line for money. The future of our infrastructure is dependent upon us having successful applications,” he explained. The province requires municipalities to compete against other municipalities in order to receive the funds to provide critical services, a situation which is untenable. 

Councilor Jay Brennan was in support of challenging this. “I’m really happy that AMO is onto this. It’s not sustainable for us. The hospital is absolutely without a doubt the most important institution we have, but supporting it is not in our purview. There’s got to be a new way to do things and this is a good first step,” he said.

Councilor Peter McKenna agreed. “Municipalities are putting millions of dollars into what could be considered provincial responsibilities… Residential property taxes are bearing the brunt of this cost. Putting the bill on property owners is regressive. Our provincial partners have the ability to tax based on income, and we don’t. 

“We’re not picking a fight with the province, but it’s time to update our agreement, or services are unfortunately going to have to give. I’m very glad to have this.” 

Council was unanimous in supporting AMO’s call to action.

Hometown News
Author: Hometown News