— FAO projects $2.4 BILLION Municipal Budget gap in 2021 —
OTTAWA— Stephen Blais, MPP for Orléans and the Liberal critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing, is calling on the Ford government to address the $2.4 billion municipal budget gap for 2021 before cities are forced to make cuts to important frontline services.
“Today’s report from the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) confirms that cities are facing huge COVID-19 expenses in 2021 that the government still has no plans to address,” says Blais. “Instead of looking ahead and helping municipalities address the COVID-19 gap in their 2021 budgets, Doug Ford has left them a lump of coal.”
According to the FAO, $700 million from the Safe Restart Agreement will not be accessible to Ontario’s municipalities leaving a $2.4 billion hole in municipal finances for 2021.
“We have seen this pattern again and again with Doug Ford and his ministers,” adds Blais. “They announce a big flashy number to make it look like they are addressing an issue, but behind closed doors they add red tape that limits the actual support provided.”
The FAO report makes it clear: without significant provincial support from Doug Ford for 2021, municipalities will be forced to consider cutting front line services, increasing taxes and user fees, and raiding reserves. Any of these would disproportionately impact Ontario’s most vulnerable.
“Municipalities have done an admirable job tightening their belts,” adds Blais. “But to avoid significant tax increases and service cuts in 2021, they will need the full support of the Province.”