Skip to main content
The Globe and Mail
Support Quality Journalism
The Globe and Mail
First Access to Latest
Investment News
Collection of curated
e-books and guides
Inform your decisions via
Globe Investor Tools
Just$1.99
per week
for first 24 weeks

Enjoy unlimited digital access
Enjoy Unlimited Digital Access
Get full access to globeandmail.com
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
Just $1.99 per week for the first 24 weeks
var select={root:".js-sub-pencil",control:".js-sub-pencil-control",open:"o-sub-pencil--open",closed:"o-sub-pencil--closed"},dom={},allowExpand=!0;function pencilInit(o){var e=arguments.length>1&&void 0!==arguments[1]&&arguments[1];select.root=o,dom.root=document.querySelector(select.root),dom.root&&(dom.control=document.querySelector(select.control),dom.control.addEventListener("click",onToggleClicked),setPanelState(e),window.addEventListener("scroll",onWindowScroll),dom.root.removeAttribute("hidden"))}function isPanelOpen(){return dom.root.classList.contains(select.open)}function setPanelState(o){dom.root.classList[o?"add":"remove"](select.open),dom.root.classList[o?"remove":"add"](select.closed),dom.control.setAttribute("aria-expanded",o)}function onToggleClicked(){var l=!isPanelOpen();setPanelState(l)}function onWindowScroll(){window.requestAnimationFrame(function() {var l=isPanelOpen(),n=0===(document.body.scrollTop||document.documentElement.scrollTop);n||l||!allowExpand?n&&l&&(allowExpand=!0,setPanelState(!1)):(allowExpand=!1,setPanelState(!0))});}pencilInit(".js-sub-pencil",!1); // via darwin-bg var slideIndex = 0; carousel(); function carousel() { var i; var x = document.getElementsByClassName("subs_valueprop"); for (i = 0; i < x.length; i++) { x[i].style.display = "none"; } slideIndex++; if (slideIndex> x.length) { slideIndex = 1; } x[slideIndex - 1].style.display = "block"; setTimeout(carousel, 2500); }

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is seen during a news conference in Toronto on Jan. 16, 2020.

Cole Burston/The Canadian Press

Ontario Premier Doug Ford is promising “no surprises” for municipalities from his government this spring as the Progressive Conservatives prepare their second annual budget a year after they shocked local governments with spending cuts and unilateral decisions.

Speaking to the Rural Ontario Municipalities Association conference on Monday in Toronto, Mr. Ford said he had instructed his government to consult before it makes future changes.

“I’ve told my caucus and our ministers, no surprises. No surprises to municipalities. Just lay it on the line, get their input,” said Mr. Ford, who served as a Toronto councillor during the tumultuous term when his late brother, Rob, was mayor. “Because again, I walked a mile in your shoes, I was a municipal councillor. And nothing I hated more than when [the] province would come up and say ‘do this, do that.’ We need your input. And we appreciate your input.”

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Ford and his ministers have struck a similar collaborative tone for months, ever since the Premier moved to soften retroactive cuts buried in the April, 2019, budget to public health and other programs delivered by municipalities. The cuts sparked a public campaign against him and strong opposition from Toronto Mayor John Tory and other municipal leaders.

The new tone is a marked contrast to the Premier’s attitude when his government took power in June, 2018, and moved quickly, with no consultations, to slash Toronto’s city’s council almost in half in the middle of the civic election, moving to invoke the Constitution’s notwithstanding clause after a court initially ruled against the move.

Since then, the Ontario government has also improved its relationship with the province’s largest city, striking a transit deal that backed off a threat to take over ownership of its entire subway system. It also declined to take on what some municipal politicians had expected to be sweeping changes to regional governments across the province. However, Mr. Ford’s Minister of Transportation, Caroline Mulroney, antagonized local politicians in Hamilton in December by reversing course and cancelling the city’s light-rail transit (LRT) project, saying its cost had spiraled.

The Progressive Conservative government has been careful to appeal to small and rural municipalities, handing out $200-million in surprise funds to small and rural communities for unspecified “modernization” projects just two weeks before last year’s budget.

The Premier, who praised rural Ontarians as “real people,” highlighted his government’s financial support for the areas outside of big cities.

“We’re giving a ton of money away. I feel like Santa Claus here,” Mr. Ford said as he announced investments for job creation and rural broadband and cellular coverage.

He also announced the second phase of his government’s natural gas expansion project, with the goal of reducing energy costs.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Ford, however, made no mention of the education labour strife that is ramping up across the province this week. In her speech to the conference, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said students in rural areas are being hurt by school closings and fewer course options.

Also at the conference on Monday, Finance Minister Rod Phillips announced that the government would keep its Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund at $500-million for 2021, the same amount it set last October for 2020. Mr. Phillips said the government had learned from its experience last year, when the province announced changes to the funding for 2019 after many municipalities had set their budgets for the year.

Municipal leaders have welcomed the change in tone. Jamie McGarvey, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the mayor of Parry Sound, Ont., about 225 kilometres north of Toronto, said relations with Queen’s Park are much calmer than last year.

“I’m really pleased that we’ve come to the position where it’s more conciliatory and we’re having better conversations and consultations,” he said.

Related topics

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies