May 1, 2019 5:23 pm

New estimate says provincial changes chop Hamilton’s funding by $8.8 million

Hamilton's general manager of emergency and community services is now estimating $8.8 million in lost provincial funding this year, through changes to cost-sharing agreements.

Nick Westoll/Global News

Provincial changes to cost-sharing agreements for a variety of city services are now expected to pull $8.8 million out of Hamilton’s 2019 operating budget, according to an estimate provided to city councillors.

The biggest chunk, about $3.5 million, involves subsidies for 13,000 child care spaces as the Doug Ford government downloads 20 per cent of those costs to the city.

READ MORE: Ontario budget creates uncertainty for Hamilton childcare, public health programs

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Ambulance services, public health and social services are also affected by changes included in this year’s provincial budget, as the Progressive Conservative government works to reduce Ontario’s $12-billion deficit.

READ MORE: Hamilton public school board to lay off 99 high school teachers due to provincial funding cuts

The $8.8-million estimate was provided in a note to city councillors from General Manager of Emergency and Community Services Paul Johnson in advance of a Thursday afternoon committee meeting at Hamilton City Hall.

READ MORE: Hamilton’s share of provincial affordable housing dollars — $29 million

For this year, Ward 4 Councillor Sam Merulla says staff have said they’ll be able to maintain services through the use of emergency reserve funds but warns of difficult choices in the years ahead.

“Do we decrease services or do we increase taxes?” he said.

Merulla also stresses that “this type of frontal attack is not created equal” and hits Hamilton harder than other municipalities between of its aging population and more acute poverty and infrastructure issues.

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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