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Broadband connectivity, wine taxation among priorities at 2021 AMO conference

August 24, 2021

Picton, ON – The County of Prince Edward delegation advocated strongly for several priorities during the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) conference held August 16-18, 2021.

“The virtual conference provided an opportunity for some of The County’s priorities to be heard by ministers and their staff,” Mayor Steve Ferguson says. “I was pleased by the productive conversations and was proud to partner with like-minded communities to bring important issues forward.”

The County met with Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy in a joint delegation with the Town of Lincoln and Niagara-on-the-Lake. The delegation advocated for a change to taxation on Ontario wine that is hindering investment and job creation in the sector. The County’s winegrowing industry has been particularly hard hit during the COVID-19 pandemic, with 80% of wineries reporting revenue drops of $50,000 to $100,000 in the past year. Mayor Ferguson joined his colleagues in advocating for the elimination of the 6.1 per cent basic wine tax and the 35 per cent import tax on domestic wine sold at the LCBO. Changes to taxation would support winegrowers as they make investments and protect jobs during the economic recovery.

Minister Bethlenfalvy acknowledged that tourism and hospitality were a couple of the hardest hit sectors of the economy right from the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. He noted that he is taking that into consideration as the Government of Ontario pursues a new alcohol modernization and taxation strategy.

The County delegation also met with Minister of Infrastructure Kinga Surma. Mayor Ferguson advocated for more municipal engagement as internet service providers (ISPs) are awarded funding. He also highlighted the recent work The County had done on developing a broadband connectivity strategy. Minister Surma confirmed the provincial government’s commitment to rolling out funding as quickly as possible in order to give all Ontarians access to reliable, high-speed internet by the end of 2025.

Mayor Ferguson joined his colleagues with the Eastern Ontario Wardens’ Caucus (EOWC) for several virtual meetings. EOWC members had the opportunity to meet with provincial ministers, the NDP Caucus, and the Liberal Caucus to highlight advocacy work and outline the pressing issues facing the Eastern Ontario region. Key priorities discussed included long-term care, health-care transformation (Ontario Health Teams, modernization of public health and emergency health services, and virtual care), affordable and attainable housing, and broadband and cellular services.

AMO is a non-profit organization representing almost all of Ontario’s 444 municipal governments. AMO supports strong and effective municipal government in Ontario and promotes the value of municipal government as a vital and essential component of Ontario and Canada’s political system.

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For media inquiries, please contact Mark Kerr, Communications and Consultations Supervisor, at 613.476.2148 extension 1009 or by email at mkerr@pecounty.on.ca.

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