Guelph mayor wants more details on premier’s transitional funding announcement

Premier Doug Ford is promising transitional funding to municipalities next year as the government moves forward with some controversial cuts to public health and child care.

He made the announcement during a speech on Monday in Ottawa at a meeting of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.

Speaking afterward, Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie said transitional funding is something the city always hopes for in the wake of changes at the provincial level that impact the city’s bottom line.

But he said the premier didn’t provide enough detail.

“I’m concerned that it could be just a deferral of some pain to a later date that municipalities are going to have to struggle with,” Guthrie said.

Beginning Jan. 1, all municipalities will transition to a new cost-sharing model with the province, which means paying for 30 per cent of public health costs and 20 per cent of creating new childcare spaces.

The Tory government has said the funding cuts are necessary in order to tackle the province’s $11.7 billion deficit.

During his speech, Premier Ford did not provide details on the amount of the timing of the transitional funding.

Guthrie, who also chairs the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario, said he would like to see those details sooner rather than later since cities have already begun to develop their 2020 budgets.

“Many municipalities are looking at each other, saying ‘well what does this mean?’” He said. “That is an unknown part of his speech to the delegates.”

Guthrie said it also comes down to consultation with the province or lack thereof.

He said a subcommittee of LUMCO offered to meet with the province back in June, but the premier’s office has not responded to his offer.

Guthrie did applaud announcements from the premier to increase land ambulance funding and open another stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program next month.

That funding stream is meant for community and recreation projects such as the new library in downtown Guelph and the new recreation centre in the south end.

“Those big projects have been on the horizon for myself and for council, and really for the community, for a very long time,” Guthrie said. “So we just have to be hopeful that it will be successful.”

The city can file their applications for funding beginning Sept. 3.

— With files from The Canadian Press

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