Focus on Rural Access to Services
Welcoming ROMA's New Board
Following a successful election and ROMA Conference in January, the newly elected ROMA Board of Directors met for the first time in February. Following the conference, the seat for Zone 7 remained vacant. In March, the Board welcomed the new Zone 7 Representative, Carma Williams, Deputy Mayor, Township of North Glengarry, who was selected through an application process.
ROMA’s 2023-2027 Board of Directors are:
- Chair, AMO Rural Caucus - Robin Jones, Mayor of Westport
- First vice chair, Zone 8 – Christa Lowry, Mayor, Municipality if Mississippi Mills
- Second vice chair, AMO Rural Caucus - Sandra Datars Bere, City Manager, City of St. Thomas
- AMO Rural Caucus – Peter Emon, Reeve, Town of Renfrew
- AMO Rural Caucus, Rainey Weisler, Deputy Mayor, Municipality of Bayham
- Zone 1 – Jaime McGrail, Councillor, Municipality of Chatham-Kent
- Zone 2 – Steve McCabe, Councillor, Township of Wellington North
- Zone 3 – Dave Beres, Deputy Mayor, Town of Tillsonburg
- Zone 4 – Christina Early, Councillor, Town of Caledon
- Zone 5 - Pam Sayne, Councillor, Township of Minden Hills
- Zone 6 – Jennifer Murphy, Councillor, County of Renfrew
- Zone 7 - Carma Williams, Deputy Mayor, Township of North Glengarry
- Zone 9 – Mark Wilson, Councillor, City of Temiskaming Shores
- Zone 10 – Janet Hager, Councillor, Municipality of Red Lake
Check ROMA’s Zone map to find your zone.
Upcoming Advocacy Work
Last year, the Board released its advocacy paper, Opportunities for Rural Ontario in a Post-COVID World. As a plan for action, Opportunities for Rural Ontario largely guided ROMA’s advocacy work in 2022, with a focus on the need for housing. ROMA’s first priority was to convene an Attainable Housing Task Force comprised of housing industry experts, municipal staff and ROMA Board members. Informed by a member survey and other work, the Task Force Report identified practical steps to address the rural housing crisis.
In 2023, the plan will continue to guide Board priorities. At its March meeting, the Board endorsed further work to address the challenges of rural access to services, This work will explore the challenges, opportunities and solutions to providing reliable and accessible services to people in rural communities across the province, with plans to present this work at the 2024 ROMA Conference.
2023 Provincial Budget
In March, the Ontario Budget was released. It included some investments that are important to rural municipalities.
The government announced $202 million annually to the Homelessness Prevention Program (HPP) and Indigenous Supportive Housing Program. The intent is to help those experiencing or at risk of homelessness, and those escaping intimate partner violence, as well as to support community organizations that deliver supportive housing.
More than 40 municipalities, as well as ROMA, passed AMO’s resolutions calling for the Province to end the homelessness crisis. The eastern and western wardens caucuses and the Northwestern Ontario Municipal Association also passed the resolution. This support was invaluable and demonstrates how effective municipal governments can be when they work together.
As well, there is $425 million committed over three years to support mental health and addictions. It includes a five per cent increase in the base funding of community‐based mental health and addiction service providers that are funded by the Ministry of Health.
The budget included $174 million over two years to continue the Community Paramedicine for Long-Term Care Program. This pilot program has played a critical role in providing care at home for seniors. Rural paramedic services have been leaders in developing these innovative and highly effective programs.