Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) caucus is praising Ontario’s 2021 budget, especially the billion dollars set aside for municipal recovery.
The record-setting $186.1 billion dollar budget was introduced on Wednesday afternoon. The OBCM responded pleased it invests in Ontarians, Ontario businesses, and municipalities. “Ontario’s municipalities are grateful the province has tabled a budget that recognizes the need for ongoing fiscal support,” said OBCM Chair and Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman.
The OBCM statement points out the provision of an additional $1 billion in relief funding to municipalities will help preserve vital public services and support local economic recovery. The caucus also highlighted the $175 million to support people struggling with mental health and addiction, along with the $255 million in additional funding to municipal and Indigenous program partners to address rising COVID-19 cases within shelters. “COVID-19 has brought all levels of government together to support our communities through his pandemic,” commented Lehman. “We must maintain that resolve and commitment to collaboration as we work to end the pandemic.”
Ontario’s Big City Mayors, formerly known as the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, includes mayors of 29 cities of 100,000 people or more. It represents some 70 per cent of Ontario’s population and advocates for issues and policies deemed important to Ontario’s largest cities. “OCBM is eager to continue working closely with the province to address the long-term effects of the pandemic on municipal revenues and joins the province in its call for additional support from the federal government,” added Lehman.
Wednesday’s budget contains a record $173 billion in new spending. It does not contain any new tax increases or drastic cuts but does project a $33.1 billion deficit, which is lower than last years by about five billion. The province estimates it will be 2030 before the deficit is paid off.