BY CLOVER STERLING
Municipalities from across Canada, including those within Peel Region, issued an urgent statement Monday to bring awareness to the financial crisis they are facing caused by COVID-19 emergencies,and are calling on the government to act fast on their promises before time runs out. The joint effort being led by the Federation of Canadian Municipal (FCM), is proposing $10 billion dollars from the federal and provincial government financial Assistant Program, to continue to provide service and help to restart local economies.
“Our residents cannot wait any longer,” the group said in a joint statement Monday. “To protect municipal services, we need immediate provincial and federal support to cover lost revenue and additional costs caused by the COVID-19 crisis.” FCM plans to allot $4 billion dollars to Ontario municipalities to recoup their loss of transit revenue and other services accrued by the pandemic.
While the province has been working on the frontlines keeping residents safe during the crisis, the situation has resulted in city services taking on additional burdens, as local governments struggle to keep up with tens of millions in costs for city services, transit expenses and more. The meeting was attended by the Mayors and Chairs from across Ontario, along with the Large Urban Mayors Caucus of Ontario,Canadian Municipalities, as well as the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario; all uniting with one voice of urgency sighting that Municipal services are important to reopen the economy. Should the funding not materialize, says the group, that could mean increased property taxes or reduced city services, among other cutbacks, the statement read.
According to the participants, if the government acts fast, there will be no need for a reduction of services. “By acting now to confirm relief for municipalities, senior governments can avoid these unforeseen property tax increases and destructive cuts to frontline municipal services,” the group statement read. “Cuts or property tax increases will unfairly hurt the very same people that the federal and provincial governments have spent billions helping during the pandemic.”
However, they applauded the obligation of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier Doug Ford, who have supported the municipal services since the pandemic, but are counting on them to make a decisive decision soon.