Ontario Supports Modernization of Small and Rural CommunitiesPublished on January 26, 2021
Funding helps municipalities improve delivery of critical programs and services
TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing over $40 million during COVID-19 to help small and rural municipalities improve the delivery of critical programs and services. The funding, under the Municipal Modernization Program, is part of the government's $125 million investment through 2022-23 to help small and rural municipalities become more efficient and save taxpayers' dollars.
"Our government recognizes that COVID-19 has created challenges for everyone, including small and rural municipalities," said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. "By working hand in hand with our local partners, we have ensured that vital services continue to be delivered to individuals, families and businesses. The funding we are announcing today will build on the progress we have made together and allow for further review and modernization of local services so we can get the best return on taxpayers' dollars."
The Municipal Modernization Program helps Ontario's 405 small and rural municipalities find better, more efficient ways to operate and serve their residents. Municipalities can use the funding to conduct reviews of service delivery and administrative expenditures to find efficiencies or implement a range of projects, including developing an online system to improve the local process for approving residential and industrial developments or setting up new shared services with neighbouring municipalities.
Last year, Ontario funded 184 modernization projects led by small and rural municipalities, including service delivery reviews which found $3 million in potential annual savings for Elgin County and up to $5 million in savings over 10 years in the Township of Douro-Dummer.
Today's announcement was made during the 2021 Rural Municipalities of Ontario Association (ROMA) conference, where Premier Doug Ford, ministers, associate ministers and parliamentary assistants joined hundreds of municipal officials for the first-ever virtual ROMA conference. They held meetings with almost 300 municipal delegations and reaffirmed the government's commitment to protect the health and safety of Ontarians, and work in partnership with municipalities to stop the spread of COVID-19.
"COVID-19 has highlighted opportunities for small and rural municipalities to modernize local services," said Allan Thompson, ROMA Chair. "This funding will help municipal governments to review processes and improve services to be more efficient and better meet community needs."
The government will continue working with ROMA and its members to protect the health and safety of rural communities, and help individuals, families and businesses recover even stronger from the impacts of the pandemic.
- Ontario is investing an additional $200 million from the Ontario Community Infrastructure Fund to support critical local infrastructure projects, such as building and repairing roads and bridges as well as water and wastewater infrastructure.
- The government is investing $5 million to support eligible agricultural and horticultural societies during COVID-19.
- The government is investing $5.3 million, provided through the federal Forest Sector Safety Measures Fund, to help small and medium sized forest sector businesses offset the cost of COVID-19 safety measures.
- Ontario has renewed the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund, providing $5 million in targeted support for rural and northern municipalities.