FCM President responds to Finance Minister Flaherty's comments



    OTTAWA, Nov. 22 /CNW Telbec/ -

    Statement from FCM President Gord Steeves in response to comments made
    yesterday by Finance Minister Flaherty regarding a municipal report on
    the $123-billion municipal infrastructure deficit.

    "Responding to reporters' questions about the $123 billion infrastructure
deficit, Finance Minister Flaherty is quoted as saying the Government of
Canada is not in the "pothole business". That and calling municipal
governments "whiners" for calling attention to the pressing needs hurting
their communities and their residents is an obvious attempt to diminish the
importance of municipal issues and the concerns of Canadians.
    The minister said that he was in the business of building gateways to
make sure we have a strong, vibrant economy. We applaud those investments. But
we also have to invest in our cities and communities if we do not want those
gateways to open up to economic black holes.
    Potholes and decaying roads are not trivial; talk to any of the tens of
thousands of commuters who are fed up with potholes. Or stop a moment to
figure out the cost to our economy and our environment as trucks stand idle
because of choked traffic.
    This is no time to try to evade responsibility for a national problem.
It's simply has to be on the Minister's and the government's agenda. If the
federal government had taken this tack with health care, Canada would have no
national health insurance today.
    The infrastructure deficit in our cities and communities is a national
problem. It requires national leadership. That's the job of the federal
government. The government has stepped up with money for infrastructure, close
to $18 billion of it directly targeted to municipalities. By doing so, the
government has acknowledged its responsibility. FCM has always recognized the
importance of this investment. Now it's time for the federal government to
acknowledge the size of the problem and lead a national response and a
national fix.
    It's time to stop debating who should hold the hot potato and start
working together to develop a plan to deal with reality-a $123-billion
reality."




For further information:

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

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Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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