Mayor Cam Guthrie said on Monday that he is anticipating an announcement from Premier Doug Ford that will include details on the Ontario government’s partnership with municipalities across the province.
In response to a letter from Toronto Mayor John Tory, Ford’s office said he is “always interested in sitting down with municipal partners to discuss how our two levels of government can work together to find efficient and respect taxpayers dollars.”
The letter said an announcement would be made by Ford on Tuesday “in support of our municipal partners”, news that Guthrie welcomed in a retweet saying “I look forward to hearing what this path forward will be.”
Guthrie on April 30 wrote a letter on behalf of the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario, that he leads, to Queen’s Park criticizing the premier for “downloading by stealth” after annual budgets have already been passed by city councils across Ontario.
“This is exactly what #LUMCO has been requesting,” Guthrie added.
Guthrie joined Toronto counterpart John Tory on May 8 to criticize cuts made by the premier and his Progressive Conservative provincial government, telling reporters that mayors across Ontario are “quite concerned about what is being cut.”
Guthrie wrote that he was “pleased” to join Tory as the chair of the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario, or LUMCO, to address reporters on “the ongoing challenges [and] impacts of these cuts”.
“As Mayor Tory said, these cuts will hurt real people,” Guelph’s mayor said from a City of Toronto podium. He continued on to emphasis that mayors are concerned specifically about “how the cuts are being made”.
The mayor and LUMCO asked the provincial government in a letter on April 30 to delay the funding cuts until “at least 2020” as the impact on their municipal residents, criticizing their efforts to “download by stealth” and not consulting.
Guthrie raised the concern that the funding changes being carried about by Queen’s Park are coming after cities have planned and consulted through a process to create budgets throughout Ontario.
“City councils have had actually no time or opportunity to find the efficiencies or realize the economics of scale — we have no time to adapt,” the mayor told the cameras, saying that cities will be forced to consider tax increases, delaying infrastructure projects and other measures.
The two-term mayor, re-elected last fall with a majority of ballots, said pointedly that Ontarians “already pay some of the highest property taxes in Canada”, adding that “local governments simply can’t absorb these cuts especially with no warning and when our budgets have already been passed.”
Guthrie named cuts to conservation authorities that could affect response time in flooding situations and the slashing of funding to public health as some of the impacts that cities could experience from the provincial “download”.
The mayor went on TVO’s The Agenda later in the day, where he talked with host Steve Paikin and other panelists about what the cuts could mean for the municipalities he represents.
Guthrie pointed out on TVO that the “lack of runway, no heads up” on the provincial moves also will impact non-governmental organizations working in the cities, saying that he is believer that “not everything” needs to be done by government.