Back to Numbers, Not Measures

Regular readers may recall that I mentioned Ontario’s Municipal Performance Measurement Program (MPMP) here a few times. I went so far as to compile some comparison tables that are still posted on this blog under the “By the Numbers” tab (above). Since the last published data was from 2011, I thought that a breezy warm day would be a good time to update some of this information. But the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing informs me that the program was killed a year ago.

“Effective for the 2014 reporting year, changes were made to reduce the reporting burden of municipalities.  The collection of Municipal Performance Measurement Program (MPMP) measures are no longer required, and have been replaced by Schedule 80D of the Financial Information Return (FIR).”

MPMP was a logically constructed and systematic attempt to measure municipal services performance. Only researchers and analysts like myself might miss it, but it was an intriguing set of data that pulled back the numerical curtain on the inner workings of municipalities. For good measure, the government also deleted from its website the Annual MPMP summary reports that compiled performance data from all of Ontario’s municipalities. Several year’s reports can still be found archived on the web regardless. It would have been interesting to have a longer historical span of data, say 10 years, to look at. MPMP could have continued to apply only to median sized, and larger, municipalities.

Schedule 80D is a simplified numbers dump that doesn’t attempt to provide any performance measure. One step forward, two steps back in the campaign for open and transparent government. MPMP was useful though, in presenting a functional template for the analysis of municipal performance even though municipalities themselves resisted compiling the data and obviously didn’t use it.