COVID-19: Municipalities react to ‘Safe Restart Agreement’
Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) President Bill Karsten issued this statement following the federal government’s announcement of an agreement with provinces and territories on a federal “safe economic restart” plan that includes targeted funding for municipalities.
“This agreement is a promising start at addressing the financial crisis municipalities face in this pandemic, as we work to protect frontline services for Canadians and prepare to help lead Canada’s much-needed recovery.
“Municipal leaders have been working hard to protect residents and local businesses. Our unplanned costs have shot up, whether we’re turning arenas into shelters or rebalancing streets for physical distancing. At the same time, we’re losing billions from transit fares, utility charges and user fees—and we cannot run deficits. This is a crisis of non-recoverable financial losses.
“FCM has been clear: there’s no full recovery without strong municipalities, and we are pleased to see the Prime Minister acknowledge this. We thank the federal government for its leadership on this crucial way forward. We are calling on all orders of government—including provincial and territorial—to do their part to ensure municipalities get this financial support efficiently.
“Some municipalities will still be facing difficult choices about the services Canadians rely on. But this agreement provides some upfront relief, and it continues the crucial conversations Canada must have ahead of a possible second wave of COVID-19. Its support for public transit systems, in particular, recognizes the depth of the blow to municipal finances, and the central role transit must play in Canada’s recovery.
“Canada needs municipalities to lead recovery efforts on the ground, and this agreement confirms the need for a bold recovery plan. This will require a non-traditional stimulus approach to empower local governments. There’s still a path to building a better Canada out of this pandemic. That will require unprecedented collaboration among governments—with cities and communities at the table.”
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) unites more than 2,000 local governments representing more than 90 percent of Canadians. FCM called in April for emergency operating funding to continue supporting Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more at FCM.ca.
For more information please contact:
FCM Media Relations, (613) 907-6395, firstname.lastname@example.org