Mayors warn of property tax increase and service cuts

Mayors from across Ontario, including Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown issued a stern statement today saying that “time is up for federal-provincial wrangling about how to share costs.” The statement says that “Ontario Municipalities are speaking with one voice to deliver one important message: Our residents cannot wait any longer.” Municipalities across Canada are facing dire financial consequences related to COVID-19 services and short-falls in revenue and are asking for at least $10 billion dollars in emergency relief.

Municipalities are creations of the provincial government and are not allowed to incur debt to fund their operating costs. During the pandemic, cities have incurred additional costs while experiencing a rapid shortfall in revenues from fees, particularly transit. Brampton recently resumed fare collection, however, it is expected that ridership will continue to be down while the economy slowly re-opens.

The mayors say that “difficult conversations about cost-saving service reductions are taking place at council meetings across the province.” Areas being examined include:

  • supports to children, families and seniors
  • reducing or cancelling some transit services
  • staffing adjustments including layoffs and delaying or cancelling hiring
  • reducing essential services include public health, fire, paramedic and police services
  • closing parks and cultural sites and cancelling recreation programs
  • slower land use planning reviews and development approvals
  • cancelling or deferring critical infrastructure and affordable housing projects, costing construction jobs

Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown has previously said that this is not the time for municipalities to be contemplating property tax increases and is hopeful that the province and federal government would step-up, particularly as announcements are made daily on financial support for various groups and segments of the economy.

The mayors “strongly encourage the federal government to address this in their fiscal update this week.” A fiscal and economic snapshot is expected from Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Wednesday (July 8 2020).