By Kevin Werner, News Staff
Hamilton politicians should use more professional language when talking about provincial officials as the city attempts to lobby them for more cash to solve their financial and infrastructure problems, says Stoney Creek councillor Brad Clark.
“Try not to use disparaging comments when Hamilton Day comes,” saidClark. “(The politicians) don’t have to come (to the event).”
Clark was reacting to Ward 4 councillor Sam Merulla calling Premier Kathleen “a liar” during the Oct. 9 council meeting after the premier told Hamilton Community News in an interview earlier this month the city saved nearly $78 million in uploaded cost by the province that councillors could have used for other items. City officials arguedHamiltonactually only saved about $11 million.
During the interview, Wynne stated the province uploaded $78.9 million in 2013 for Hamilton.
“We continue to upload more costs,” she said. “We continue to make investments in Hamilton.”
“I’m calling her a liar here today,” said Merulla. “I ask her to come forward or read the briefing notes because you are screwing us over, madam.
“She obviously does not have an idea of the crisis municipalities are going through. We need to push this envelop as often as we can.”
Mike Zegarac, acting general manager of corporate services, said since 2009 province has uploaded such costs as the Ontario Disability Support Program, and Ontario Works expenses. But, he said, the province also includes avoided costs in the uploading calculations, something the city doesn’t use. Provincial officials don’t include the claw back of province grants to the city, such as the special social services funding Hamilton has received since 2003, but which has been curtailed as the Liberals start absorbing the social service expenses.
Clark said the province is not following professional accounting practices when it calculates the uploaded savings for municipalities, which is a detriment to Hamilton.
Hamilton politicians and officials are organizing what is called a Hamilton Day at Queen’s Park at the end of November, while also joining other municipalities to lobby federal politicians on behalf of the city, also next month. The idea is to meet withOntarioand Canadian ministers and talk about city issues such as infrastructure, social service costs, transportation, affordable housing, and downloading.
Clark, a former Progressive Conservative minister in the Mike Harris government, said if Hamilton or any other municipal politician simply calls provincial ministers names, they will ignore that city’s message.
“If they feel slighted, they don’t have to attend (the event),” said Clark.