Rapidly changing cities and communities need long-term committment in Monday's budget



    Census points to need for action on cities and communities agenda

    OTTAWA, March 16 /CNW Telbec/ -n The following is a statement by FCM
Acting President Gord Steeves on FCM's expectations for Monday's federal
budget.
    "Last week's census told a story of a country whose cities and
communities are rapidly changing.
    It told a story of rapid suburban growth and rural depopulation. It told
a story of growing pressures on municipal services and on our crumbling
infrastructure.
    It pointed to the need for new strategies to deal with immigrant
settlement and the need for better transit to keep our economy moving.
    In short, it signalled to all orders of government - federal, provincial
and municipal - that action and solutions are needed.
    Monday's budget can lay the groundwork for some of those solutions. In
last year's budget, the government committed to help municipal governments
meet their growing challenges by fixing the fiscal imbalance. This year we
need action to fix this fiscal imbalance.
    Specifically, we need a long-term plan to erase the infrastructure
deficit. We need to make the federal gas-tax transfer permanent. We need a
commitment to maintain and expand existing infrastructure programs. And we
need a permanent national transit program to help break the gridlock and clear
the smog in our larger cities.
    Most important, we need a permanent federal commitment to our
municipalities, a commitment grounded in an understanding that most of the
challenges posed by our changing population will play out in our cities and
communities.
    This budget will tell us whether the progress municipal governments have
made in the last few years will continue. It may also be the last budget
before a federal election. It could set the direction for relations between
the federal and municipal governments for years to come.
    There is a lot riding on this budget, and we have reason to expect the
Government will deliver. As the census demonstrates, inaction is not an
option."




For further information:

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

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Federation of Canadian Municipalities

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