LONDON, Ont. - The provincial government announced Friday, it will not force municipal amalgamations.

Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, says funding will be provided to help municipalities lower costs and improve services.

The announcement was met by applause at the Association of Municipalities of Ontario fall policy forum about the next steps in the regional government review.

The province will provide up to $143 million in funding that is available for all 444 municipalities across Ontario.

“Municipalities are the level of government closest to the people, but every community is different – one size doesn’t fit all,” Clark says.

“This investment in communities will support municipal transformation efforts to make sure they are delivering efficient, effective and modern services that best meet the unique needs of their residents.”

The province says throughout its regional government review, it heard local communities should decide what is best for them in terms of governance, decision-making and service delivery.

Ontario was reviewing 82 municipalities, a move that raised the possibility of amalgamations and comes not long after the Progressive Conservative government slashed the size of Toronto's city council nearly in half.