Toronto: The Ontario government yesterday announced it is providing almost $10 million to help large municipalities find better and more efficient ways to operate and save taxpayers’ dollars.
This investment is being delivered through the province’s Audit and Accountability Fund and will support initiatives that focus on increasing digital services, modernization, streamlining and service integration, said a press statement.
Additional funding for municipal transit systems
The Ontario government is also providing $150 million in additional funding to help municipal transit systems address the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. This funding is in addition to the $2 billion previously committed by Ontario and the federal government through the Safe Restart Agreement to help municipalities continue to deliver critical transit services. During the peak of the pandemic, ridership dropped by up to 90% of normal levels for some of Ontario’s transit systems, which resulted in significant financial impacts for municipalities.
The additional $150 million in provincial funding means that there is a total of $650 million in funding still available to municipalities up to December 31, 2021, with extensions to December 2022 granted on a case-by-case basis. In addition, Ontario is calling on the federal government to match the additional funding announced today to help ensure municipal financial needs continue to be met.
Audit and Accountability Fund
“Covid-19 has highlighted the need for municipalities to be as efficient and nimble as possible, while ensuring services remain financially sustainable today and in the future,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “Our municipal partners are on the front lines serving their residents, and we are committed to helping them improve how they operate and deliver services, to ensure taxpayers get good value for money.”
Thirty-one large municipalities were approved for projects that will help them find savings in time for the 2022 municipal budget cycle.
“Under the previous rounds of the Audit and Accountability Fund, municipalities identified almost $130 million in potential local savings,” said Minister Clark. “By increasing our investment we will continue to support municipalities as they look for more innovative and creative ways to operate and deliver sustainable local services.”
Ontario also recently announced over $40 million under the Municipal Modernization Program to help small and rural municipalities improve the delivery of their critical local programs and services during Covid-19.
- Yesterday’s announcement is part of the government’s $18 million commitment over three years (through 2022-23) through the Audit and Accountability Fund.
- In 2019 and 2020, all of Ontario’s large municipalities took part in the Audit and Accountability Fund. Sixteen cities had an in-depth review of service delivery and 23 participated in a more focused assessment to look at specific areas such as public health and municipal vehicle fleets. Thirty-one municipalities are receiving support under the current round of funding.
- Ontario is also supporting municipalities through the historic federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement that secured up to $4 billion in emergency funding to support them during Covid-19.
- The province has made an additional three-year, $45-billion commitment to help communities recover as part of Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover. This includes critical investments in health and other initiatives, to ensure Ontario is more resilient in the future.