(Don’t) Come and Knock on our Door

2 minute read
Justin Trudeau and Don Iveson sitting at a panel

Locked-in budgets and limited means of generating revenue has resulted in Canada’s big cities and small towns being particularly hard hit by the COVID pandemic. With the country in lockdown, municipalities are not generating funds from transit, parking or recreation program user fees. According to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), municipal budgets could face a $10 to $15B hole over the next six months.

With municipalities unable to run deficits, funding gaps have turned into service reductions and Canada’s mayors are now calling on their federal and provincial counterparts for assistance. The message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau? Don’t come knocking on our door. When asked about supporting municipalities, the Prime Minister passed the buck to the provincial governments noting that towns and cities are constitutionally governed by the provinces.

This is not sitting well with municipal leaders and tensions are rising. Earlier this week, the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) Mayors and Chairs publicly called on the federal government for joint financial support stating that they “need it now.” From emergency services to safe transit for essential workers, municipalities are on the frontlines of fighting COVID. With federal support flowing to virtually every segment of the population impacted by COVID, municipalities are calling for their fair share.

As we saw in the Economic Action Plan over 10 years ago, the success of municipalities will be key to the economic recovery. Investments in infrastructure projects and economic stimulus won’t make a difference if municipalities can’t be there to support and execute stimulus projects.

With no support from provincial and federal governments, municipalities will be forced to raise taxes on residents. Let’s not forget, there is only one taxpayer. If the federal government doesn’t step up now, the emergency financial support they’ve provided to Canadians will end up back in municipal coffers.

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