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Ontario’s Big City Mayors Respond to the 2024 Provincial Budget

Mar 27, 2024Housing, Infrastructure, Mental Health and Addictions, Top Stories

March 27, 2024 

Yesterday Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy released the 2024 Ontario Budget: Building a Better Ontario. OBCM has been advocating to the provincial government on our key priorities for this year’s Budget: Housing and Housing-Enabling Infrastructure, the need for a New Provincial-Municipal Fiscal Review, and the Mental Health, Addictions and Homelessness Crisis facing our communities.

As the complexity of challenges facing municipalities increases, it is key that the province  recognizes the importance of a collaborative approach between our two levels of government. The 2024 Budget shows the progress that has been made on this front with new investments announced for our key priority areas. Highlights of this include:

Housing and Housing-Enabling Infrastructure

  • $1 billion in new funding for a Municipal Housing Infrastructure Program as well as a $625 million increase in funding for the Housing Enabling Water Systems Fund. This means more than $1.6 billion towards getting shovels in the ground.
  • The inclusion of $200 million for a Community Sport and Recreation Infrastructure Fund which recognized the need to address both the upgrading and new build of this important community infrastructure.
  • Municipalities look forward to learning more about how the province plans to make surplus lands available to support affordable and attainable housing, the guidelines being created to empower municipalities to impose a vacant homes tax, and how the option to provide property tax rate decreases to new purpose-built rental will work
  • What is still missing from the funding and announcements is a commitment to making us whole from the effects of Bill 23 from the loss of development charges funding. However we look forward to the release of Minister Calandra’s next Housing Supply Action Plan and how it will also help municipalities do their part to build homes faster. 

Provincial – Municipal Fiscal Review

  • Ontario’s Big City Mayors renews our call for a new provincial-municipal fiscal review for Ontario municipalities. 
  • The last significant review was more than 15 years ago and it’s time that the province sat down with municipalities to work on a new deal to address the discrepancy between services being delivered and provincial transfers
  • We look forward to continuing our conversations with the province on this important matter.

Mental Health, Addictions and Homelessness Crisis

  • Addressing the mental health, addictions and homelessness crisis has been a priority for OBCM for several years. We were encouraged to see the inclusion of $396 million in new funding today for mental health, homelessness and addictions programs that will support municipalities with innovative solutions and integrated services for those in need.
  • We were pleased to see that $152 million of this funding will be used over the next three years for various supportive housing initiatives, and $124 million has been allocated for addictions recovery specifically. 
  • Funding for services like these are critical to addressing this ongoing crisis in Ontario’s cities, and this commitment will make an impact. We hope that the province will continue to fund these programs going forward. 
  • When it comes to community safety we are also thankful for the increased funding of $46 million over 3 years that will provide much needed equipment to local law enforcement as well as funding for combating crime and supporting victims services. 

“Today’s budget shows that the provincial government has been listening to municipalities and addresses many areas where our cities need support the most. Including the more than $1.6 billion in new funding for critical infrastructure that will allow more homes to be built faster, and the additional $396 million to address the ongoing mental health, addictions and homelessness crisis in our communities,” said Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of Burlington and Chair of OBCM. “Ontario’s Big City Mayors will continue to renew our call on the province for a new provincial-municipal fiscal review as well as a plan to make municipalities whole. We look forward to working with the province to address these priorities.”

About Ontario’s Big City Mayors

Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM), formerly known as the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, includes mayors of 29 single and lower-tier cities with a population of 100,000 or more, who collectively represent nearly 70 percent of Ontario’s population. OBCM advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities.

Media Contacts 

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Chair               Michelle Baker, Executive Director                                        

905-335-7777                                                     647-308-6602

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