Canada's city infrastructure in crisis while federal surplus grows, say big city mayors



    OTTAWA, Oct. 11 /CNW Telbec/ - Meeting today in Ottawa to discuss the
upcoming Speech from the Throne, FCM's Big City Mayors Caucus (BCMC)
reiterated their call that the equivalent of one cent of the GST go to
Canada's cities and communities. This would provide some $5 billion a year in
additional funds to Canadian cities and communities.
    "The $13.8-billion federal surplus announced two weeks ago shows the
federal government has the money to invest in our cities and communities,"
said BCMC Chair and Regina mayor Pat Fiacco. "It's just not budgeting for it."
    "We understand the current surplus by law had to go toward the national
debt, but the size of the surplus makes it obvious that the federal government
collects more money than it needs, while Canada's cities and communities go
begging."
    The mayors emphasized that Canada's municipal infrastructure is
aging-most of it has reached 80 per cent of its service life-and this now
threatens our economic growth and, with it, our quality of life. Earlier
estimates place the municipal infrastructure deficit at $60 billion, but
research to date indicates it is significantly bigger than previously thought.
FCM will be releasing a study of this deficit later in the fall.
    The BCMC is thankful that the Federal Government maintained the full
rebate on municipal GST purchases and extended the gas tax fund to 2014. These
are important steps, but, until municipalities receive the equivalent of one
cent of the GST, property taxes will continue to increase, the infrastructure
deficit will get even larger, and cities will fall behind.
    "Cities are making do with just eight cents of every tax dollar collected
in Canada, while the federal, provincial and territorial governments take in
92 cents between them," said Toronto mayor David Miller. "The federal surplus
underlines Ottawa's refusal to acknowledge we face a critical funding crisis
and that it's time to share some of its enormous surplus with us."
    The mayors urged the federal government to take the lead in meeting these
challenges, because the federal government has a key role to play in building
national prosperity and these challenges threaten our survival as a strong,
competitive and prosperous country and hurt the quality of life of all
Canadians.
    "Canada's municipal governments provide much more than basic services,"
said Montreal mayor Gerald Tremblay. "They create wealth and deal with a
growing range of new responsibilities, such as the environment, affordable
housing and immigrant-settlement. But these responsibilities come without
adequate resources and fiscal tools. This creates a fiscal squeeze that is
made worse by having to make much-needed investments in infrastructure. If we
are to secure Canada's competitiveness and protect our quality of life, cities
must have access to revenues that are adequate, reliable and responsive to
growth."
    FCM President Gord Steeves said "FCM will launch a national campaign this
fall to mobilize Canadians in a coordinated effort to win the government's
attention for cities and communities. And when we do have a federal election,
we will be making this an issue for all parties and all candidates."




For further information:

For further information: Maurice Gingues, (613) 907-6395

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Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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