TORONTO, Nov. 2, 2017 /CNW/ - The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is warning that the Government of Ontario's new policing bill would increase costs, while reducing local say and oversight in many communities.
AMO made dozens of recommendations during the five-year review process, but struggled to get the Province to recognize municipal fiscal issues. Ontarians pay the highest policing costs in Canada.
"This bill makes reforms without providing municipal governments with the resources and local flexibility to make meaningful changes in public safety," AMO President Lynn Dollin said. "Municipal governments must be able to afford policing, plus all the other equally important local services that create safe and healthy communities."
- The bill fails to improve interest arbitration, which usually duplicates police and fire wage deals from other communities. Arbitrators should consider a community's capacity to pay, and agreements negotiated with other local municipal employee unions, when deciding raises for emergency service workers.
- The bill fails to provide police services boards with the flexibility to use civilians for some duties that don't require a sworn officer. Such locally based decisions can help deliver more effective and affordable services.
- The bill includes new training and requirements for police services boards, without clear new resources to fund the work.
- The bill would eliminate more than 100 police services boards in communities that contract with the Ontario Provincial Police to provide local policing. Aligning boards with OPP detachments reduces municipal voice and oversight.
- The bill would require municipal governments to create Community Safety and Well Being Plans that bring together policing, health services, and various other social services. Unfortunately, Councils don't have authority over all of these services to implement these plans. Such plans should be voluntary to meet specific community circumstances.
"Municipal costs are going up about $1 billion per year, just to deliver current services. This bill introduces new unfunded mandates on top of those costs," Dollin said. "Municipal governments are forced to either cut services or hike property taxes to worrisome levels."
AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario's 444 municipal governments. AMO supports and enhances 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.
Follow AMO on Twitter, @AMOPolicy
SOURCE Association of Municipalities of Ontario
For further information: Brian Lambie, AMO Media Contact, 416-729-5425, firstname.lastname@example.org