Even as the Ontario government lead by Premier Kathleen Wynne makes plans to spend $7 billion on climate change, it’s a time of austerity when it comes to other provincial responsibilities such as education and health care.
While the province is mandating extensive population growth in York Region through its controversial Places to Grow legislation, York Region Taxpayers Coalition is calling on the provincial government to meet its obligations to fund infrastructure related to that growth.
Tomorrow at York Region Council there is a motion to fund new construction at local hospitals. This new construction is required due to the rising populations in York Region.
Although health care is a provincial obligation, the Wynne government only funds up to 90% of new construction with the remainder to come from “community sources.” When factoring in the cost of purchasing furniture and equipment for the new construction, the provincial portion of the funding decreases to approximately 65%.
Clearly the province is shirking on its obligations.
By global standards, the population of York Region is very well off. We have plenty of people who are in a financial position to donate to any of the four hospitals that serve our communities. When wealthy people attend a gala fundraiser, they are given a generous tax credit off income tax. So a portion of the 35% of new construction funding comes from federal coffers.
The remaining funds that our hospitals need comes from property tax payers at the municipal level.
In a 2009 memorandum of understanding between York Region and local hospitals, York Region agreed to provide at least $12 million annually to local hospitals. This agreement runs until 2031.
Here’s a summary of what York Region taxes have paid to bridge the funding shortfall from Queen’s Park:
|Year||Base Allocation||Assessment Growth %||Increase Due to Growth||Total Allocation After Growth|
Since the program began, York Region property taxpayers have contributed $101,288,618 towards a funding shortfall that the provincial government is responsible for.
York Region Taxpayers Coalition advises property taxes should be exclusively used towards municipal services, such as clean drinking water, roads, policing and social services. Property taxes should not be used to help fund the obligations of other levels of government.
There are municipal services that York Region is not providing; or deferring due to lack of funding. An example would be the decommissioning of the Holland River Sewage Lagoons delayed to at least 2024, despite the fact that the lagoons are already filled to capacity.
The property taxpayers of York Region have an expectation that municipal services will be provided. Yet in order for those funds to be available, we cannot continue to allow public funds to be diverted to cover funding shortfalls from the Wynne government.