As federal, provincial, and territorial governments negotiate “safe economic restart” funding agreements, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) outlined four bottom-line requirements to ensure funds urgently protect frontline services for Canadians and support a nationwide economic recovery.
“From ambulance to clean water to safely-restarted recreation facilities, Canadians need to know that municipal services will keep running strong—and that a full recovery is coming,” said FCM President Bill Karsten. “But that’s at risk now with our cities and communities in financial crisis. The Prime Minister’s safe restart commitment opens a door to solving this. But municipalities need to be part of the conversation, and sufficient funding needs to get to the front lines fast.”
As municipalities of all sizes work flat-out to support Canadians through COVID-19, and with revenues cratering, they now face $10-15 billion in non-recoverable losses nationwide. To protect Canadians from damaging cuts, municipalities have appealed through FCM for emergency operating funding, which will require contributions from federal, provincial, and territorial governments.
According to the FCM, a federal restart plan can lead to a solution—protecting the frontline services and recovery Canadians need—but only if it meets four key requirements:
- Municipal funding must be sufficient. Nationwide, municipalities require at least $10 billion in emergency operating funding. Federal and provincial/territorial governments will need to work together urgently to achieve this overall.
- Funding must be clearly identified. Starting with the broader $14 billion safe-restart commitment to provinces and territories, the allocation of federal funds intended for municipal needs must be clearly specified—so local leaders can make informed choices on the ground.
- Funding must protect services Canadians rely on. That includes frontline municipal services like fire, ambulance, public transit, clean water, and shelters. Funding must address both initial COVID lockdown costs and the implications of a gradual restart.
- Funding must reach municipalities quickly and directly. Only an allocation-based funding mechanism can ensure this, and we strongly urge leveraging proven tools like the Gas Tax Fund and the public transit stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (directed to operating costs).
“We need to work together to pull Canadians out of this pandemic and come back even stronger,” said Karsten. “There’ll be no full economic recovery without tackling the municipal financial crisis first, and the Prime Minister has created an opening to do that. Now all orders of government need to seize this opportunity to get support to the front lines where it’s so urgently needed.”