What Mayor Deb had to say to Ontario's Finance MinisterFriday, March 01, 2013 by: Darren Taylor
Ontario Finance Minister Charles Sousa, accompanied by Sault Ste. Marie MPP and newly-appointed Minister of Natural Resources David Orazietti addressed a number of community stakeholders at Sault College Thursday.
Sousa’s visit to Sault Ste. Marie was part of pre-budget consultations the government is conducting across Ontario.
Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, Sousa, Orazietti and the rest of the provincial cabinet will meet in Sault Ste. Marie today.
Mayor Debbie Amaroso was the top community leader among 34 stakeholders, gathered from various local sectors, to pose questions to Sousa Thursday.
She emphasized Sault Ste. Marie’s need for continued provincial funding, in the amount of $18 million, from the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF), to deal with local issues such as infrastructure.
It was recently announced that 75 percent of grant funding the City receives from the province for connecting link funding, for maintenance of the community’s vital commercial roads, will be cancelled out and replaced by a smaller funding envelope, leaving local taxpayers to foot the entire cost of maintaining those roads.
When asked by SooToday.com if the Province, in drawing up its’ budget, would consider a City request to keep receiving the former 75 percent of grant funding for connecting links, Sousa replied: “I will be discussing this with Minister Orazietti and look at the issue.”
“The essence of your question is critical,” Sousa told us. “We as a government have always occupied ourselves with investing in infrastructure over the last nine years. We do recognize that’s going to make us competitive in the long term and improve our quality of life. We’ve increased net funding to communities by three times the amount it is was before, whether through OMPF or other funding.”
Amaroso also urged the Minister that the government refrain from imposing forced amalgamations of utility companies, like the Sault’s PUC Inc., into larger, regionalized utilities.
The Mayor also stated that the community will continue to work towards a positive outcome for Sault Ste. Marie as it works with OLG in its’ modernization process.
In addition, Amaroso pointed out to Sousa that Sault Ste. Marie has been recognized as the second most entrepreneurial community in Ontario and will strive to be a job incubator for small to medium sized businesses.
A private reception was to be held by the City Thursday evening for the cabinet as more ministers were expected to arrive in the community for Friday’s cabinet meeting.
A news release issued yesterday by the Province of Ontario follows.
Northerners have their say in 2013 Budget
New Ontario Government seeking input to help build a better province
Finance Minister Charles Sousa held a pre-budget consultation today in Sault Ste. Marie, the second in a province-wide series.
During these consultations, the minister will meet with individuals, organizations, associations and other stakeholders across the province to hear their views on creating jobs and strengthening the economy in advance of the 2013 Budget.
The new Ontario government is committed to eliminating the deficit by 2017-18 in a way that is both fiscally responsible and fair, while creating jobs for the people of Ontario.
“I am pleased to be hearing from the people of Northern Ontario about how we can promote economic growth to create jobs in the North, and build on a stronger Ontario that provides opportunities for everyone.” - Charles Sousa, minister of finance
“These consultations are an important opportunity to ensure that the residents of Northern Ontario can bring their views and priorities forward as we develop the 2013 budget.” - David Orazietti, MPP, Sault Ste. Marie
Thunder Bay and Sudbury also participated in today’s pre-budget consultation via videoconference.
The pre-budget consultations will run throughout March and April.
Ontarians can also participate by sending their submissions by mail, email or fax.
Read Ontario Finances: Third Quarter 2012-2013
Learn more about Minister Sousa