Mayor Jim Watson not impressed by recent provincial cuts

Ottawa City Hall. File photo by Devyn Barrie.

Ottawa’s Mayor Jim Watson and the Chair of the Ottawa Board of Health, Councillor Keith Egli, participated in a conference call today with members of the Large Urban Mayor’s Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO). Topic of discussion — the impacts of provincial Budget cuts on municipalities. Below is a verbatim press release from the Mayor’s office.

“When the City is in a state of emergency from the flooding, the need for an effective public health unit could not be more evident. The funding cuts to both public health and the conservation authorities’ flood mitigation efforts could not have come at a worse time,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “The recent provincial announcements show that this is a covert budget, with the funding cuts and provincial downloads revealed through funding allocation letters to municipal programs. The impact of these reduced funding allocations creates immediate pressures for Ottawa as the 2019 municipal budget has already been set.”

“In the last several days, we have seen Ottawa Public Health (OPH) step up to contribute significantly with on-the-ground efforts in communities hit by the ongoing flooding; from door-to-door wellness visits to ensure residents are safe and informed about drinking water, food safety and mental health, to assisting with evacuation efforts when needed” said Chair Egli. “When the floods waters have receded OPH will still be there to provide expertise on well water testing and providing mental health resources through the recovery and clean up.”

In addition to the estimated $6 million in cuts to Ottawa Public Health in 2019, the City is also tracking the impacts of provincial funding cuts to:

  • The provincial Gas Tax Program, which will result in a shortfall of $90 million by 2022 in anticipated annual revenues earmarked for public transit
  • Affordable housing, which may see a reduction of $69 million in capital funding over the next six years for the building of new units
  • Child Care services, which will result in a deficit this year and additional pressures of approximately $5.2 million for the 2020 budget
  • The Addiction Services Initiative, which lost approximately $1.8 million in provincial funding with the elimination of the program
  • Ottawa safe consumption services, which resulted in a $1.2 million pressure on the City to maintain this OPH clinic

City of Ottawa staff are currently undertaking a full review of the recent announcements for their impact on municipalities including cuts to libraries, the urban forest strategy, tourism grants, changes to ambulance dispatch services, Ontario Works, funding lost through the termination of the Cap-and-Trade program and the above listed programs. Staff will report to Council in June. – 30 –

The frustration expressed in this press release ties in strongly with Stittsville’s Councillor Glen Gower‘s article that was recently re-published in Stittsville Central. You can read Councillor Gower’s column —  https://stittsvillecentral.ca/cutting-prevention-programs-will-only-cost-more-down-the-road/.

LUMCO is chaired by City of Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie and is represented by 67% of Ontario’s population with 28 big cities with populations of over 100,000 making up its membership.

LUMCO mayors have invited Premier Doug Ford and Minister Steve Clark (Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing) to the next LUMCO meeting to be held on May 24th in Guelph. “We sincerely wish for them to attend, so that we can sit down together to find a better way forward for all Ontarians.”

To read the full statement released by the Chair and member Mayors of LUMCO https://www.ontariobigcitymayors.ca/news/details.php?id=638.


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1 thought on “Mayor Jim Watson not impressed by recent provincial cuts”

  1. And I’m not impressed either with Mayor Jim Watson’s lack of preparedness for the current flooding situation in Ottawa!. He’s the CEO of the city, and ultimately responsible for the protection of its citizens…

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