EASTERN ONTARIO — The main provincial transfer program to municipalities will continue into 2021 while staying in line with a trend of slow decline — and a more precipitous drop once inflation is factored in — over the last two decades through the terms of four governments.
The 2020 Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) will dole out $500-million to 389 municipalities across the province this year. And at this week’s Rural Ontario Municipal Association conference in Toronto, Finance Minister Rod Phillips committed to the same total allocation next year.
Phillips trumpeted the timing of his announced commitment to 2021, noting it followed the Ford government’s “earlier than ever before” release of the 2020 allocations to aid in the planning of municipal budgets.
Launched by the Harris government after the municipal amalgamations of the late 1990s, the unconditional grant program was originally known as the Community Reinvestment Fund but was renamed OMPF this century by the former McGuinty government — a moniker that has stuck. So have the dollar figures, in absolute terms, setting aside some actual whittling away that has occurred through the decades and the effects of inflation.
“No change at all really,” said North Dundas Treasurer John Gareau, speaking in broad terms, when comparing his township’s numerical take today when compared with the sum received at the start of the millennium. The township has always been in the roughly $1-million range, with ups and downs through the years.
North Dundas is slated to collect $905,400 this year, a decrease of $1,300 from the township’s 2019 OMPF grant — and the same amount received ten years ago.
Gareau charted the course of OMPF funding received by North Dundas since 2002, noting the figure was $1.117-million that year, “which fell to $1,039,000 in 2003, and trickled down to $1,026,000 by 2005,” he said, describing a time period overlapping the Eves and McGuinty governments. There was a “significant decline in 2006 to $841,845 — then bounced back up in 2007 to $1,028-million,” then stayed flat at that figure through 2009. In 2010, the sum dropped to $950,400 and by 2019 had fallen to $906,700.
Those gradually declining numbers are worse when juxtaposed with inflation, with the value of a buck declining 34 percent on the consumer price index between 2002 and 2019, according to the online Bank of Canada inflation calculator. (And municipalities often complain that their inflation-related costs are much higher than the consumer price index, necessitating tax levy growth substantially higher than the CPI.)
“Of course, I would like North Dundas to receive more but in light of the cuts that were expected and the possibility of successful funding applications, I was surprised at the amount,” said North Dundas Mayor Tony Fraser of his township’s OMPF grant.
Local MPP Jim McDonell pointed out the recent allocations need to be seen in light of last week’s announced infrastructure grants for municipalities, which are in addition to the OMPF. Tory McDonell also said the current government has increased OMPF funding over the previous Liberal regime.
“Letting our partner municipalities know the government is standing behind them well in advance will help them to plan well ahead for their 2021 budgets,” said McDonell, echoing Phillips.
This year, the municipalities in McDonell’s are due to collect almost $9.6-million from the OMPF program. This includes the City of Cornwall — $4,185,400; Township of South Dundas — $1,169,200; Township of South Glengarry — $981,800; United Counties of SDG — $967,300; Township of North Dundas — $905,400; Township of South Stormont — $887,700; and the Township of North Stormont — $489,600.
The Ford government says it will consult with municipalities on how to “better focus the OMPF on communities that need it most, including small, northern and rural municipalities.”
Phillips also used the confab to announce consultations with “stakeholders” about the property-tax system “to enhance the accuracy and stability of property assessments.” On that subject, the province intends to “work municipal partners to ensure vital services are supported, while building a competitive business environment that will attract investment and create jobs,” according to the minister.
The upcoming round of funding for
The Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund
— Ontario continues to build strong, local partnerships by maintaining the funding available to municipalities through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) at $500 million for 2021.
Today Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, committed to maintaining the OMPF at the Rural Ontario Municipal Association annual conference while announcing consultations on next year’s program to ensure the funding is better focused to deliver results for small, northern and rural municipalities.
“Municipalities told us how vital the OMPF is to their communities and they need information sooner to plan their budgets,” said Minister Phillips. “That’s why we announced allocations for 2020 earlier than ever before, and why we’re committing today to maintain the funding envelope for next year.”
For 2020, the OMPF provided the following grants:
City of Cornwall: $4,185,400
Township of South Dundas: $1,169,200
Township of South Glengarry: $981,800
United Counties of SDSG: $967,300
Township of North Dundas: $905,400
Township of South Stormont: $887,700
Township of North Stormont: $489,600
“Letting our partner municipalities know the government is standing behind them well advance will help them to plan well ahead for their 2021 budgets,” said Jim McDonell, Member of Provincial Parliament for Stormont-Dundas-South Glengarry.
Moving forward, the province will continue to consult with municipalities on how to better focus the OMPF on communities that need it most, including small, northern and rural municipalities.
Ontario is also consulting with stakeholders on the province’s property tax system to enhance the accuracy and stability of property assessments. Municipalities rely on the more than $22 billion annually raised through the property tax system to fund local services. Minister Phillips announced today that the government will work with municipal partners to ensure vital services are supported, while building a competitive business environment that will attract investment and create jobs.
“Municipalities are critical partners in delivering services to the people of Ontario and we will continue to listen and work together to support people in every community across the province,” said Minister Phillips.
- As announced last year, the Province is investing $500 million in 389 municipalities across Ontario through the OMPF in 2020, to support local priorities in each community.
- In October 2019, the government announced 2020 OMPF allocations, providing municipalities with detailed funding information earlier than ever before.
- The main objectives of the OMPF are to:
- recognize the challenges of small, northern and rural municipalities, while targeting funding to those with more challenging fiscal circumstances.
- support areas with limited property assessment.
- assist municipalities that are adjusting to year-over-year funding changes.
- Property tax is the main revenue source for municipalities, raising more than $22 billion annually to fund local services.