North Eastern Ontario urban mayors aim to put up united front – by Len Gillis (Timmins Daily Press – July 4, 2017)

TIMMINS – Mayors from Northern Ontario’s larger urban municipalities met in Timmins last week to discuss common concerns and plan strategies to get more funding from upper levels of government.

Key issues, according to Timmins Mayor Steve Black, included the need for more FedNor funding, a bigger commitment to Northern rail networks, more money for the opioid drug crisis and the need to restructure district social services administration board’s responsibilities.

Black said the first concern was discussion over the budget promise by federal Liberals to add $25-million to FedNor’s $41-million budget over a period of five years. “They have increased the FedNor budget but it’s not significant and substantial enough an increase to put us on equal ground with the other development agencies across Canada,” said Black.

“Obviously it’s not a standalone agency like the other agencies as well, so that still has some concern for us in terms of what they’re able to do. We’d like them to see them have the resources from a staffing perspective to be really able to focus on some of the big national projects such as the defence strategy.”

He said the Northern Ontario mayors believe the region is at a disadvantage compared to some of the other regions of Canada. Black said the second issue of concern was the planned review of the DSSAB Act by the Ontario government.

He said the mayors plan to form a united front to bring to the annual AMO conference, which is set for Aug. 13-16 in Ottawa.

“Really in the core of it, we discussed how Ontario is the only province in all of Canada that funds EMS and social services through the municipal level,” said Black. “It’s our opinion that should be taken back over by the province, and similar to any other province in Canada, they should be the ones funding those core services.”

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