Provincial-Territorial Meeting of Ministers responsible for Local Government

NEWS RELEASE – Remedying fiscal imbalance: Key to strong and healthy communities

Meeting in Toronto, the provincial and territorial Ministers responsible for Local Government took note of the federal government’s growing interest in financial support for municipal issues, including infrastructure.

The Ministers enjoy a very strong relationship with municipalities, and reinforced the importance of the federal government respecting the exclusive constitutional responsibility of the provinces and territories for municipal affairs.

The Ministers were unanimous in acknowledging the challenges of municipalities, noting the importance of healthy, well-educated citizens and healthy communities to the economic growth of Canada. Healthy communities need sustainable infrastructure as well as other important quality of life factors.

The Ministers stated that the provinces’ and territories’ flexibility to support healthy communities is becoming more and more constrained as greater portions of their budgets are consumed by rising health care and education costs. In the Premiers’ August 1, 2002 communiqué, they say: “As Premiers, our first priority is improving health services to Canadians wherever they live, and regardless of their circumstances.” As the Premiers have stated, the fact that the federal government has systematically reduced its share of health care funding from 50 per cent to 14 per cent is not acceptable.

“Until the federal government deals with the fiscal imbalance, these constraints will continue to limit the provinces’ and territories’ ability to deal with competing priorities,” chair of the meeting and Ontario’s Associate Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Tina Molinari, said on behalf of the Ministers.

The Ministers vigorously stated that Canadians and their provincial and territorial governments have identified the urgent need to remedy the fiscal imbalance.

The Ministers also noted that the financial update presented by the federal Finance Minister, October 30th, showed important surpluses that are expected to increase to reach almost 40 billion dollars in 2007-2008. This illustrates the importance of the fiscal imbalance.

The Ministers agreed to report on these issues to their Premiers for the next meeting of first Ministers.

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Keith Marnoch
Ontario Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
(416) 585-6744