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