Municipal Governments are Seeking Leadership and Investment from All Federal Parties



    TORONTO, Sept. 8 /CNW/ - The Association of Municipalities of Ontario
(AMO) today called upon national party leaders to ensure the needs of Canada's
municipalities and property tax payers are front and centre as Canadians go to
the polls on October 14, 2008.
    "Canada can only be as strong as its communities," said Peter Hume,
President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. "All federal
parties must recognize that investment in communities is needed to promote job
creation and economic competitiveness, and to better protect our environment.
Canadians are now looking at all Federal parties to see who best shares their
desire to build strong, competitive, environmentally and fiscally sustainable
communities."

    AMO's immediate priorities for the next Parliament:

    Establishing Fairness, Employment Insurance and Immigration - Equitable
treatment for Ontario tax payers would eliminate Employment Insurance rules
that provide lower benefits to unemployed Ontario workers. Furthermore,
immigrants who choose Ontario should receive fair and equitable funding for
services that help them successfully settle into the economic and social
fabric of our communities.

    Investing in our Social Foundation - Ontario municipalities are required
to spend more than $220 million a year on child care and more than
$1.2 billion a year for housing and homelessness programs. These expenditures
on social programs force municipalities to divert property tax revenue away
from core municipal priorities, including infrastructure investment and other
community services. The federal government's revenue sources, not municipal
property taxes, should fund basic social housing and child care. Ontario
municipalities want the federal government to fulfil its responsibilities for
child care funding and to adopt a national housing strategy.

    Growing Infrastructure - Ontario's massive municipal infrastructure
deficit undermines productivity, contributes to gridlock, and discourages
investment and job creation. While the Building Canada Plan, which includes
Federal Gas Tax Fund revenue sharing with municipalities, is helpful, the
needs of Ontario municipalities are not being met. In the face of Ontario's
daunting infrastructure deficit, an escalator formula is needed to ensure that
gas tax sharing keeps pace with inflation, and additional funds are needed for
priority infrastructure investment, including social housing.
    "These priorities are all investments that will put communities first.
When communities come first and do well, the nation does well," said Hume.
    AMO will be evaluating the policy platforms of all the political parties
against these priorities and providing the analysis to its members.

    AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario's
445 municipal governments. AMO supports strong and effective municipal
government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a
vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada's political system.




For further information:

For further information: Pat Vanini, AMO Executive Director, (416)
971-9856, ext. 316 or (416) 729-4394; Brian Lambie, AMO Media Contact, (416)
729-5425


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