Ontario government to fast track bill separating Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon
Ontario Premier Doug Ford attends a news conference at Bramalea GO Station, in Brampton, on Thursday May 11, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
Published Tuesday, May 30, 2023 6:59PM EDT
The Doug Ford government will be fast-tracking a bill that will break up the Region of Peel into three independent cities.
A motion is expected to be tabled on Tuesday that would effectively allow the Progressive Conservatives to push the legislation through to the third reading without having to go to committee.
Typically, the role of a committee is to review a bill line-by-line and either approve or modify the language. It also gives stakeholders and community members the opportunity to present their views.
Just two weeks ago, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark tabled the Hazel McCallion Act to make Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon single-tier municipalities by 2025.
As part of the legislation, the government will create a transition board of up to five members to help “ensure the process is fair and balanced.” Recommendations are expected in the summer or fall of 2024.
The three municipalities have shared core services as well as a regional government since 1974. While Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie has long supported the idea of independence, Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown is hesitant to deal with the financial ramifications and Caledon Mayor Annette Groves didn’t want it in the first place.
The Ontario New Democratic Party says pushing the legislation through without consultation “raises red flags.”
“It fails to consult Peel Region residents. It fails to hear from municipal workers whose jobs may be at stake. It fails to ensure the voices of each municipality are represented fairly on the Transition Board. It doesn’t provide for any transparency or accountability in how decisions are made,” said Jeff Burch, NDP critic for municipal affairs, in a statement.
“People in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon deserve a fair, thoughtful and transparent process for the dissolution of Peel Region — the dissolution is unprecedented, and it needs to be done right.”
It’s unclear how the divorce of Peel Region will impact many of the shared services in the area, such as paramedic services, health programs, services for seniors, child-care support, garbage collection and water treatment.
Some of those services, experts and politicians have said, may remain shared after the region is dissolved. For example, Crombie has indicated emergency services should stay “in tact” with a different funding model while water and wastewater services could transition to a user-pay service.
The motion to push the bill to third reading is expected to be debated and voted on Tuesday afternoon.
When asked about the decision to fast-track the legislation and whether unions of employees working for the region would be involved, Government House Leader Paul Calandra did not respond.
Instead, he pivoted to say that MPPs could have debaed the bill further the night before.
“Ironically, as soon as the legislative dining room closed last night, the NDP, they called it a night, closed the place down putting, put no more speakers up,” Calandra said.
“We're voting on it today Mr. Speaker. You know why? Because it's the right thing. We're going to start to remove those obstacles that are getting in the way of building homes.”