This year, the City of Timmins hosted the Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities’ annual conference. It was a virtual event. FONOM is the unified voice of Northeastern Ontario, representing and advocating on behalf of 110 cities, towns and municipalities.
Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing and MPP for Leeds Grenville Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes addressed the conference through an electronic broadcast. He talked about the pressures of dealing with COVID-19 and stated that the province has offered $500 million for municipalities in Ontario to deal with operational pressures caused by the pandemic.
He also stated that the Premier was asking Prime Minister Trudeau, on a daily basis, to close the international borders. Steve said that allowing international travel to continue was undermining all efforts to address COVID-19.
He noted that there was a $2.8 billion investment into infrastructure to support broadband internet access, and $625 million for highways and bridges to be repaired in northern Ontario.
“I’m pleased to be in partnership with our municipalities as we address operating pressures related to COVID-19, modernize local service delivery, and support economic development,” said MPP Clark, in a Tweet following the conference. Premier Doug Ford also addressed the conference through an electronic broadcast.
In the days preceding their annual meeting, a delegation of FONOM met with Jill Dunlop, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, to discuss the Province’s Municipal Code of Conduct. The Ontario government is launching consultations with the municipal sector to strengthen accountability for council members. The province wants to ensure that councillors and heads of council maintain a safe and respectful workplace and carry out their duties as elected officials in an ethical and responsible manner. Associate Minister Dunlop is leading the municipal consultations.
In a press release announcing the Code of Conduct, MPP Clark said, “We want to gather input to ensure there are adequate mechanisms in place to hold council members accountable for any unacceptable behaviour. It’s critical that everyone feels safe and respected in the workplace, and that they know there are accountability measures in place for members who violate codes of conduct.”
One of the key issues that FONOM is working on is reinstating passenger rail for municipalities in the northern part of Ontario.