TORONTO - Ontario's New Democrats are demanding to know whether municipalities will be banned from lobbying the government with taxpayer dollars.

The party found -- through freedom-of-information laws -- that five municipalities, including Niagara Falls, Oakville and Brampton, paid lobbyists a total of $288,000.

The NDP also disclosed that 14 hospitals and nine colleges and universities spent taxpayer dollars to hire lobbyists, some from Liberal-friendly firms.

The attacks prompted the government to promise legislation that would block some publicly funded institutions from paying lobbyists with taxpayer funds.

But the Liberals have been vague about which institutions, other than hospitals, would be affected by the ban.

Speaking in the legislature, NDP Leader Andrea Horwath demanded to know why municipalities are forced to turn to Liberal-friendly lobbyists to get their issues on the agenda.

The party found that Tecumseh and Durham Region also spent thousands of dollars on lobbyists.