Advocacy Update: AMCTO discusses Municipal Reporting with the Secretary of the Cabinet

On April 19th, AMCTO staff were invited to meet the Secretary of the Cabinet, Steve Orsini to discuss our research into municipal reporting to the Province.  Laurie LeBlanc, the Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Municipal Affairs attended and participated in discussions on the Bearing the Burden report.

In the meeting, AMCTO was praised for its research and for adding clarity around the reporting burden faced by Ontario’s municipalities. While various aspects of the report were discussed, it was agreed  in the end that a more narrowly tailored approach to this macro problem would represent the most effective way forward.

Secretary Orsini suggested that the government (via Ministry of Municipal Affairs) work on tangible next steps with AMCTO (and other experts) on a means to address the reporting burden. As more details become available, AMCTO staff will provide a further update.

In addition, on April 21st, AMCTO staff member Rick Johal presented findings from the research report at a special meeting of the Regional & Single Tier CAOs who were also joined by the LUMCO CAOs group. The report and research was again, very positively received, and in fact, advanced some past efforts of this group.

For more:

AMCTO Releases Report on Municipal Reporting Burden

Secretary of the Cabinet – Steve Orsini

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AGCO Introduces Changes to Special Occasion Permit (SOP) Events

The Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) met with AMCTO back in April to discuss a series of changes that were forthcoming and would have an impact upon municipalities.  As noted during these discussions, they were keen to make the sector aware of their transition to web-based services for SOP applicants.

The AGCO is launching its new iAGCO online portal to enable applicants to apply for their permit online.  Moving forward, the AGCO will continue to notify the sector of further commitments to modernize their approach as a regulator.

To find out more about what municipalities need to know, please access this information note and the changes between the paper and online SOP form.

For more:

Note for iAGCO Online Services

 

 

Federal Government Unveils Cannabis Legalization Plan

Last week the federal government released legislation that will lead to the legalization of recreational cannabis. The legislation is designed to end 94 years of prohibition that the federal government has declared an “abject failure,” while protecting minors, and strengthening the Criminal Code to deal with those selling cannabis illegally or getting behind the wheel while intoxicated.

Specifically, if passed the Cannabis Act, would:

  • Allow adults who are 18 years or older to legally:
    • Possess up to 30 grams of legal dried cannabis or equivalent in non-dried form
    • Share up to 30 grams of legal cannabis with other adults
    • Purchase dried or fresh cannabis and cannabis oil from a provincially-licensed retailer
    • Grow up to 4 cannabis plants, up to a maximum height of 100cm, per residence for personal use from licensed seed or seedlings
    • Make cannabis products, such as food and drinks, at home provided that  organic solvents are not used
  • Create two new criminal offences, with maximum penalties of 14 years in jail, for:
    • Giving or selling cannabis to youth, and
    • Using a youth to commit a cannabis-related offence
  •  Prohibit:
    • Products that are appealing to youth
    • Packaging or labelling cannabis in a way that makes it appealing to youth
    • Selling cannabis through self-service displays or vending machines
    • Promoting cannabis, except in narrow circumstances where the promotion could not be seen by a young person

The federal government would also:

  • Set strict requirements for producers who grow and manufacture cannabis
  • Set industry-wide rules and standards, including:
    • The types of cannabis products that will be allowed for sale
    • Packaging and labelling requirements for products
    • Standardized serving sizes and potency
    • Prohibiting the use of certain ingredients
    • Good production practices
    • Tracking of cannabis from seed to sale to prevent diversion to the illicit market
    • Restrictions on promotional activities

Provinces will retain the power to:

  • Increase the minimum age in their province or territory (but not lower it)
  • Lower the personal possession limit in their jurisdiction
  • Create additional rules for growing cannabis at home, such as lowering the number of plants per residence
  • Restrict where adults can consume cannabis, such as in public or in vehicles

Criminal penalties would be enforced as follows:

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 10.47.31 AM

For more:

Government of Canada: Legalizing and strictly regulating cannabis–the facts 

Provinces Sign Interprovincial Trade Agreement

Last week the provinces signed an internal trade deal that is designed to remove domestic trade barriers that have hampered economic growth between the provinces for decades. The Canada Free Trade Agreement uses what’s referred to as a “negative list,” meaning that it automatically covers all sectors except where special exceptions are limited. Currently exempt sectors include taxation, water and tobacco. And while the deal postponed an agreement to streamline standards for moving alcohol across Canada, it did lay the groundwork for talks to establish a process to help provinces and territories regulate the trade of recreational cannabis. The deal will take effect on July 1st.

For more: 

Premier of Ontario: Premier’s Statement on the Canadian Free Trade Agreement 

Toronto Star: Free trade within Canada gets a boost from new deal 

Queen’s Park Returns for Spring Session

MPPs return to Queen’s Park this week for the spring legislative session. Here is a summary of some of the issues that may dominate the legislature’s spring sitting:

Municipal Policy: When the legislature returns debate will resume for second reading of Bill 68, the Modernizing Ontario’s Municipal Legislation Act, which introduces a number of changes to the Municipal Act (MA) and Municipal Conflict of Interest Act (MCIA). For more information you can find a summary of the changes here, as well as annotated versions of the MA and MCIA, as they would be amended by the current draft of Bill 68.

AMCTO is still reviewing the bill and working with its members to develop a set of proposed changes to the legislation. We will continue to share more information as it becomes available.

In addition to Bill 68, there are a number of other pieces of a municipally-relevant legislation still on the order paper, including:

The government is also expected to table changes to the Conservation Authorities Act, and the Ontario Municipal Board during the spring.

Provincial Budget: The government will likely use its 2017 budget to outline many of its policy priorities and new programs for the next year. This year’s budget is also likely to be Ontario’s first balanced budget in a number of years.

Hydro Prices: Hydro prices have become one of the most contentious political issues in Ontario, and are expected to continue to dominate the debate, as the opposition parties continue ramp up their criticism of the government. Polling from Nanos indicates that hydro prices are top of mind for most resident of the province as well:

hydro

Last September the liberals announced a new 8-per-cent rebate. Nevertheless,  Premier Wynne announced that the government is going to introduce an additional “package of changes” before the 2017 budget.

Heathcare: There are a number of developments surrounding healthcare in Ontario also likely to consume significant attention during the spring months. Ontario is one of the only remaining provinces still to negotiate a new funding agreement with the federal government. The province is also still locked in contentious contract negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association (OMA), still working on folding Ontario’s Community Care Access Centres (CCACs) into the Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs), and continuing its push restrain on healthcare spending.

There are a two health-related pieces of legislation still on the order paper:

Province Rejects Toronto’s Road Toll Proposal

Today the Government of Ontario announced that it won’t approve the City of Toronto’s plan to use road tolls on the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway. The City’s plan was designed to generate additional revenue, control gridlock, and fund transit.

According to the Premier, “the conditions are not right” for road tolls. As an alternative, the province also announced today that it would increase gas tax funding for municipalities. However, City of Toronto Mayor John Tory says that the gas tax increase will not replace the revenue that would have been generated by the City’s proposed road tolls. While increased gas tax funding will net the City an addition $170 million per year, road tolls were expected to generate $200 million.

Tory Tolls.jpg

For more:

CBC, “Premier Kathleen Wynne rejects Toronto’s request for tolls on DVP, Gardiner” 

CBC, “Mayor John Tory says added gas tax share isn’t enough” 

AMCTO Releases 2017 Pre-budget Submission

Today AMCTO presented its pre-budget submission before the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs, during their hearings in London Ontario. AMCTO’s submission includes seven recommendations that we believe will help to build stronger local governments and stronger communities. The recommendations cover the four areas identified by AMCTO’s members as their biggest priorities for the budget, including:

  1. Fiscal sustainability
  2. Infrastructure
  3. The reporting burden
  4. Sucession planning

Read the full submission here.

AMO Releases Pre-budget Submission

Yesterday the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) released its 2017 provincial Pre-Budget Submission to the Standing Committee on Finance and Economic Affairs.  The submission contained a number of recommendations for the Government of Ontario, including:

  • Working with the municipal sector to develop a bolder revenue framework for Ontario’s municipal governments
  • Adding inflationary increases to the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF)
  • Becoming a more active funding partner for social and affordable housing
  • Modifying a recent policing grant announcement to ensure that municipalities don’t face additional financial risks in the long-term
  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of police services
  • Reforming Ontario’s interest arbitration system
  • Maintaining the provincial 1/3 contribution for cost-shared infrastructure funding  (even if the federal government contributes a greater amount)

Find out more about this submission, or read the full report here.

New Report Argues Ontario Contributes More to the Federal Government than it Receives

A new report, released by the Mowat Centre, argues that Ontario has consistently contributed more to the federal government in total tax revenue than it receives in reciprocal federal spending. According to the report, Ontario receives disproportionately lower shares of important areas of federal spending than other provinces.

…that a handful of provinces are persistent net contributors to the federation should at a minimum spark a conversation on how federal spending in Canada is allocated, and whether Canadians are getting their fair share across the board. When funds are not allocated on a principled basis, this can deprive Canadians of comparable access to public services – violating the core principle of fairness.

Read the full report here.