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Minister of Local Government, Community Development and Sport, Portia Simpson-Miller is currently in Canada on a six-day study tour, getting first-hand knowledge of municipalities at work.
Accompanying the Minister are Councillor Milton Brown, Mayor of May Pen and Chairman of the Association of Local Government Authorities (ALGA); Councillor George Lee, Mayor of Portmore, and Robert Bryan, Executive Director of the Social Development Commission (SDC).
Funded by the Canadian Co-operation Fund, a project of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the objectives of the study tour include understanding the structure of municipal system in Canada and how issues are managed at the local level in the pursuit of sustainable development.
Since arriving in Canada on October 24, Minister Simpson-Miller has visited Toronto City Hall and has also met with the John Gerretsen, Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
Giving an overview of the Ministry, Minister Gerretsen told the delegates that the Ministry oversees Ontario’s 450 municipalities, which range from the city of Toronto with over two million residents, to some very small municipalities with only 200 to 500 residents.
The former and longest serving mayor for the city of Kingston, Ontario, further explained that since becoming Minister last year, he has been on track to give the municipalities increased autonomy and responsibilities.
Meetings with other officials in Toronto focused on municipal governance, structures and finance.
A major component of the study tour is a visit to the city of Fredericton, the capital of the province of New Brunswick. The delegation will spend today (October 28) and Friday (October 29) in that city, meeting with government officials to discuss the city’s municipal government and how local government reform is proceeding there.