This paper examines the full weight of neoliberal policies on Ontario municipalities and calls for a new urban deal.
As "creatures" of the provincial government, municipalities have far more limited revenue options than do senior levels of government, yet infrastructure and public service pressure on Ontario cities has expanded under neoliberal policies.
The paper thoroughly reviews the influence of decades of successive federal and provincial funding cuts on Ontario municipalities, compounded by the massive downloading of provincial programs onto municipalities in the late-1990s — a move that continues to burden cities. Ongoing tax cuts by federal and provincial governments continue to destabilize Ontario communities. Pressure to find cost-savings continues to grow—resulting in a range of consumption-based taxes, user fees and property tax increases. Privatization and contracting out of municipal assets, services and employment has been put forward as ameans to restore budgets.
The author proposes a number of new initiatives that could help break the cycle of perma-austerity and retrenchment that has characterized the last three decades of municipal politics.