Tax hikes or service cuts loom otherwise
Mayors from across the province – including Chatham-Kent Mayor Darrin Canniff – called out today to the Ontario and federal government to deliver move financial support to municipalities hamstrung by the COVID-19 restrictions.
The municipal leaders, represented by the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario, and the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, met to discuss the COVID-19 financial emergency.
Ontario municipal leaders said residents cannot wait any longer. To protect municipal services, they said they need immediate provincial and federal support to cover lost revenue and additional costs caused by the COVID-19 crisis.
This call for action by Ontario municipalities is part of a national effort, led by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, to secure at least $10 billion dollars in emergency relief for Canadian municipalities, to be funded 100 per cent by the federal and provincial governments.
Municipalities have worked to keep people safe during COVID-19. This has meant hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs and lost revenues.
The FCM proposal would provide approximately $4 billion to Ontario municipalities to offset lost transit revenues and added service costs.
So far, there has been no clear signal on the timing and level of a joint federal-provincial financial assistance program.
Halfway through the budget year, municipalities will soon have to consider plans to balance the budget by raising property taxes, user fees and charges, or cutting services.
Cost-saving efforts could impact:
- supports to children, families and seniors;
- reducing or cancelling transit services;
- staffing adjustments including layoffs and delaying or cancelling hiring;
- reducing essential services including public health, fire, paramedic and police services;
- closing parks and cultural sites and cancelling recreation programs;
- slower land use planning reviews and development approvals; and
- cancelling or deferring critical infrastructure and affordable housing projects, costing construction jobs.
Municipal leaders said if the senior levels of government were to take action immediately and confirm relief for municipalities, senior governments can help avert unforeseen property tax increases or cuts to frontline municipal services.