The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) has reviewed the 2018 Ontario Budget which was released by the Minister of Finance, Honourable Charles Sousa, in the Ontario Legislature on March 28, 2018.
“While the Budget listed significant investments to be made that are greatly needed, we are concerned about the government running deficits until 2024-2025, particularly at a time when the economy is doing well,” says Mayor Al Spacek of the Town of Kapuskasing and President of FONOM.
Some of the highlights in the 2018 Budget for FONOM included:
· Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) would be increased by $85 million over three years to a total of $150 million by 2021-2022.
· Investing $500 million over three years to expand broadband connectivity in rural and northern communities.
· $30 million over three years to be invested in the forestry sector aiming to support productivity and innovation enhancements, increase competitiveness and access to new global markets and strengthened supply chains.
· Continuing to address municipal concerns surrounding railway rights-of-way-property taxation. Municipalities will now have the option to increase rates per acre on high-tonnage rail lines based on a new adjusted tax rate schedule. The indexation of rates will continue to increase with the lowest rate per acre now being $110, up from approximately $35 in 2016. Short-line railway property tax rates would be held at 2016 levels.
· Community Transportation Grant Program will see $40 million over three years to help provide transportation services in underserviced areas.
· Investments in social supports such as health and dental for workers without workplace benefits, free childcare for those aged 2 1/2 until kindergarten, supports for seniors to stay in their homes longer, mental health services and investments into hospitals, among others.
We look forward to future investments in Northern Ontario and will be watching closely over the coming months.