Taneen Rudyk, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), issued this statement following the tabling of the 2023 federal budget.
“Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland tabled the 2023 federal budget in the House of Commons. FCM notes that the 2023 federal budget represents progress on some priority issues for Canadian municipalities, and leaves significant gaps on other critical challenges facing communities and cities.
“FCM, on behalf of its more than 2,100 members, has put forward efficient, cost-effective recommendations for much-needed investment in our communities; including in disaster mitigation and adaptation, infrastructure renewal, affordable housing and community well-being.
“FCM welcomes the new investment of $4 billion over 7 years in an Urban, Rural and Indigenous Housing Strategy, responding to a long-standing FCM priority, and continues to urge that this effort remain Indigenous-led. FCM continues to call for additional investment in other critical programs addressing both housing and chronic homelessness challenges in Canada, such as Reaching Home and the Rapid Housing Initiative programs designed to help our most vulnerable.
“FCM appreciates the commitment in this budget to review Canada’s infrastructure needs, to chart a course for future federal infrastructure programming, and to provide an update later in the year, including the next steps on permanent public transit funding. With major federal infrastructure funding programs either ending, coming up for renegotiation, or oversubscribed, FCM urges that municipalities be an integral part of the design of the future of federal infrastructure. Our recommendations include a dedicated water and wastewater fund, annual investments in community infrastructure, prioritizing the Permanent Public Transit Fund, as well as supporting rural communities through a plan for intercommunity transit and adding a needs-based stream to the Universal Broadband Fund.
“All Canadians deserve to live in safe, healthy and inclusive communities. As such, FCM welcomes new investments in a Canadian Drugs and Substances Strategy. In working towards our common goal of increasing the quality of life across the country, FCM will continue to push for deeper conversations on issues that directly influence community well-being. Every day, cities and communities of all sizes are addressing social challenges linked to mental health, addiction services and public safety. Municipalities need to be engaged in conversations that address these challenges.
“From forest fires to destructive storms to floods: local communities across Canada are on the front lines of extreme weather events. FCM is leading the charge for action and investment to protect against the damage caused to local economies, infrastructure, and homes. The draft National Adaptation Strategy, released in November 2022, was an important step, and signaled the government’s intention to increase funding for climate resilient municipal infrastructure. FCM is disappointed that Budget 2023 did not follow through on this commitment, and we continue to call for predictable, long-term funding through the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund critical investments that will protect communities for the next fire, storm, or flood.
“Budget 2023 makes strong investments to support Canada’s progress towards a net-zero GHG emission future. New funding and tax incentives, including for hydrogen production and carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS), will help to enable Canada’s world-leading energy sector to reduce GHG emissions and remain competitive, while new investments in clean electricity will assist municipalities as they continue to implement policies and programs to reduce emissions from transportation, buildings and waste on a pathway to net zero communities.
“FCM is disappointed to see that Budget 2023 does not contain a commitment to absorbing the retroactive costs stemming from the latest RCMP collective bargaining agreement, but rather offers details of a repayment period for municipalities. These costs, which can amount to millions of dollars in some municipal jurisdictions, were negotiated without municipalities being properly consulted and FCM is calling for municipalities to be actively involved in any future processes regarding contract policing.
“Local governments have a special responsibility in supporting growth in our cities and communities. As such, FCM will continue to call for the critical measures needed to ensure Canada’s municipalities can thrive and provide the kind of support an increasing population will require, including additional investments in core infrastructure, climate adaptation, housing and community wellbeing. With these challenges set to intensify as Canada faces significant population growth in the coming years, FCM will continue to advocate for a modernized fiscal framework that will empower municipalities to make the kind of critical investments that will keep communities growing sustainably and inclusively.
“Beyond this budget, local governments are ready to continue this vital work at the table alongside other orders of government and keep our country moving forward.”