June 5, 2020

Statement: Federal Government’s Safe Restart Plan Must Do More for Cities

“I welcome the announcement from Prime Minister Trudeau today that the federal government has offered $14B to the provinces for a safe restart plan. A national standard of support is critical to moving toward the re-opening of our economy and society. Today’s announcement is the clearest commitment yet that the federal government is willing to work with provinces to address Canada’s municipal financial crisis.

“While I understand that money for municipalities is included in this offer, it is unclear how much will be allocated. What remains clear is that cities across Canada have requested at least $10B in dedicated funding to help cover the unprecedented and unrecoverable losses we face in transit, recreation, and other front line service areas. $14B spread across the entire country for such a long list of initiatives such as support for childcare and seniors along with enhanced PPE for healthcare workers and workplaces will not leave much for municipalities.

“Cities are no better off today than we were yesterday. We need direct emergency funding and we need it now.

“Cities across Canada are facing unprecedented revenue losses as a result of this crisis. Mississauga is currently running a $50M deficit that could balloon to $100M by the end of the year. We are taking action to address our deficit and have implemented a hiring freeze. We are also the only level of government so far that has had to lay people off.

“Now is not the time for the provincial and federal levels of government to be engaged in a ‘stare down’ over who should fund cities first. Now is the time to act.

“I continue to encourage the Premier and the Prime Minister to work together to develop a municipal-specific assistance program. This program needs to be properly resourced to deal with the scale and scope of municipal losses and take into account the realities and challenges cities face. A strong recovery requires strong cities. Canada’s cities cannot be allowed to fail when we’re needed most.

“Now is the time for all three levels of government to work together. It’s time for a new financial framework in this country that provides cities with the funding they need to build the communities we all want to live. City-building is nation-building.”