Ford promises 'no surprises to municipalities' in address to rural leaders
Chris Fox, CP24.com
Published Monday, January 20, 2020 10:41AM EST
Last Updated Monday, January 20, 2020 4:14PM EST
Premier Doug Ford says that there will be “no surprises to municipalities” as his government readies its budget for 2020 and gets to work on a number of other priorities.
Ford made the comment during a speech at the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association Conference on Monday morning.
In 2019, Ford’s government drew the ire of mayors and councillors across the province after it put forward a budget that retroactively downloaded the costs of many programs and services onto municipalities.
His government was later forced to cancel or postpone many of those cuts amid public outcry, including particularly controversial changes to the funding formula for public health agencies.
Prior to the pivot, Toronto’s city manager Chris Murray had warned that the cuts would leave a $177 million shortfall in the city’s budget for 2019.
“I have told my caucus and my ministers: no surprises, no surprises to municipalities,” Ford said on Monday. “Just lay it on the line get their input because I walked a mile in your shoes. I was a municipal councillor and there was nothing I hated more than when the province would come up and say do this or do that.
Mayor John Tory was one of the biggest opponents of the Ford government’s cuts in 2019, calling their decision to do so after most cities had already passed their budgets “a ridiculous way to do business.”
During his speech on Monday Ford made no promises that municipalities won’t face cuts in 2020 but he did highlight the investments his government is making in municipal infrastructure, noting that he feels like “Santa Claus.”
He also promised to work with municipalities going forward.
“We need your input and we appreciate your input,” he said.
Ford’s second budget of his government’s mandate is expected no later than the end of April.