Mayors slam Ontario for downloading costs, forcing them to weigh tax hikes

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TORONTO — The mayors of more than two dozen of Ontario’s largest cities are slamming the province for passing costs onto them, forcing municipalities to consider tax increases or service cuts.

The Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario released a statement today saying the provincial government is engaging in “downloading by stealth.”

They say the Progressive Conservatives are implementing funding changes to municipalities without any consultation and after the communities have already approved their budgets for the year.

Ontario recently notified municipal public health units that it will reduce its cost-sharing levels from 100 per cent or 75 per cent in some cases, to 60 to 70 per cent for some municipalities, and 50-50 for Toronto.

Cam Guthrie, chair of the mayors’ caucus and mayor of Guelph, says the group supports Ontario’s efforts to eliminate the deficit, but says it can’t do so on the backs of local taxpayers without consultation.

Ontario has been in a tense back-and-forth with Toronto over the public health cuts and Premier Doug Ford sent Mayor John Tory a letter today, accusing him of spreading misinformation.