During her victory speech on Monday evening, after winning the race to become Mississauga’s next leader, Carolyn Parrish said her first order of business is to sit down with Ontario Premier Doug Ford to finally secure fair share funding for her city and the rest of Peel. 

Just two days later Mississauga councillors triggered the process.

Through a motion Wednesday morning, City Council unanimously voted to advocate for a fair funding model for Mississauga. It highlighted a recent report by Peel’s Metamorphosis Network that revealed just how underfunded social services in Peel are compared to other Ontario municipalities. The report, presented to the Region in May, showed an $868 million annual shortfall in community service funding in Peel from Queen’s Park as the provincial government continues to mandate rapid growth without the required support for critical services. There is currently an annual gap of $578 for every person in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon, compared to the rest of the province. 

It impacts essential services such as housing, childcare, schools and seniors care, as well as non-profit community services like mental health support and youth programs, resulting in longer wait times and decreased access to services in the region.  

Wednesday’s motion also underlined that of the $868 million, Mississauga’s shortfall is almost half a billion dollars. 

“Efforts to meet the needs of Mississauga residents have meant increasing municipal contributions to municipal and social services from local revenue sources, such as property taxes and user fees, to cover provincial funding shortfalls,” Wednesday’s motion highlighted. “Mississauga deserves a fair, new deal from the provincial government that provides sufficient and sustainable funding to ensure residents have fair and equitable access to municipal and social services that they rely upon.”  

Recognizing that the funding shortfalls reported by the Metamorphosis Network “mean longer wait times and less equitable access to municipal and social services for Mississauga residents and communities,” the motion urged the Province “to make an immediate commitment to providing a fair, new deal for Mississauga to ensure that municipal and social services in Mississauga receive an equitable share of provincial investment.” 

Supporting the work that the Metamorphosis Network has been spearheading, the motion also requested the Province and local MPPs meet with councillors, City staff, and non-profit organizations to work together on a plan to address provincial underfunding of municipal and social services in Mississauga.

Councillor Brad Butt, who brought the motion forward, told councillors it is critical to increase Mississauga’s advocacy efforts with the Province and start “rectifying this longstanding funding problem.”

“It will give some direction to our new mayor as well and her conversations that she’s going to be having with the provincial government going forward on a wide variety of issues,” Butt told councillors. “But this one being very significant both for our residents as well as for the property taxpayers of the City of Mississauga and the Region of Peel… and that’s an unfair burden for property taxpayers.”

In a statement to The Pointer following Wednesday’s meeting, which Parrish attended in the public gallery (she will begin officially serving as mayor in two weeks) she said the same motion should be brought forward during the Region’s Council meeting Thursday. Parrish has already emailed Brampton Mayor Patrick Brown and Caledon Mayor Annette Groves to arrange a meeting with Ford “asap”.

She told The Pointer she plans to “present the Metamorphosis report and ask for the Premier to phase in a fair increase over three years.”

The Metamorphosis report, which provided an overview of the financial challenges faced by the Region of Peel and the lasting implications of continued underfunding, showed the funding gap has already translated to a burden on the backs of Peel’s taxpayers. To cover the funding gap, the lower-tier municipalities have had to reallocate $138 per person from property taxes each year to compensate for inadequate funding from Queen’s Park for essential services. 

This means Peel’s taxpayers are, effectively, subsidizing social services in other municipalities, while their provincial income tax dollars are not being returned to their own communities in a fair and equitable manner. Parrish has said this has to stop. 

Mississauga’s newly elected mayor, who will be sworn into office June 24, made it clear while speaking to reporters Monday evening that the days of Mississauga being forgotten will no longer be tolerated under her leadership. The City of Toronto and City of Ottawa have recently been gifted new deals from the PCs for housing support that allows the municipalities to shift revenues to other needs. Parrish has said she plans to secure similar funding for Mississauga.

During her victory address, Parrish said the mayors of the Region’s three lower-tier municipalities – Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon – “will be formidable when we go to Queen’s Park or to Ottawa to tell them we need our fair share of funding here in Peel.” 

Email: paige.peacock@thepointer.com 

Twitter: @mcpaigepeacock 

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By Paige Peacock, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 17, 2024 at 06:30

This item reprinted with permission from   The Pointer   Mississauga, Ontario
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