VIDEO: Ontario Mayors Slamming Province for Funding Cuts

The mayors of more than two dozen of Ontario's largest cities - including Windsor - are slamming the province for passing costs onto them.

The cuts are forcing municipalities to consider tax increases or service cuts.

A statement released by the Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario says the provincial government is engaging in "downloading by stealth."

"So for us to be impacted by cuts at the provincial level that in some cases retroactive to January 1st of this year, is really something we have not seen before where it's a direct hit to our budget in a year where we've already set the budget and don't have the ability to change the tax rate," says Windsor Mayor Drew Dilkens.

He says unfortunately it may mean service cuts or dipping into reserves.

"But you can't do that forever, you might be able to get away with that for one year but at some point that has to stop and you've got to have some funding source to continue funding  those particular services. So there is no easy answer, every municipality will deal with it a different way but what we really need is good partners at the provincial level at the table working with us."

Because this year's budget is already set, Dilkens says it will likely impact next year's budget.

"From our perspective it's millions of dollars. Different departments are getting notified through their respective ministries at different times so the cuts are starting to pile up, but the issue really is the timing of these cuts and what it means to local taxpayers."

Ontario recently notified municipal public health units that it will reduce its cost-sharing levels from 100% or 75% in some cases, to 60 to 70% for some municipalities, and 50-50 for Toronto.

Cam Guthrie, chair of the mayors' caucus and mayor of Guelph, says the group supports Ontario's efforts to eliminate the deficit, but says it can't do so on the backs of local taxpayers without consultation.

 

— With files from The Canadian Pres