Federal Partnership with Cities Must Continue, say Canada's Big City Mayors

OTTAWA, Jan. 21 /CNW Telbec/ - As it winds down its stimulus program and sets out to eliminate the budget deficit, the federal government must continue working with cities to improve ageing infrastructure and strengthen Canada for the future.

That was the message from the mayors of Canada's 22 largest cities following their meeting today in Ottawa.

"The stimulus program brought governments together to fight the recession and put Canadians back to work," said Carl Zehr, chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities' (FCM) Big City Mayors' Caucus. "Together with the federal, provincial, and territorial governments, we're co-funding infrastructure projects that will create more than half the 220,000 jobs promised in the Economic Action Plan."

"That's helping cities build and repair the roads, bridges, public transit and water systems that are the backbone of our economy and quality of life," said Regina Mayor Pat Fiacco. "Now we need to bring all partners together at a national infrastructure summit to turn those investments into a down payment on our long-term infrastructure needs."

The mayors emphasized the importance of protecting longer-term investments in cities. They pointed to a new FCM public opinion survey that shows 69 per cent of Canadians believe local infrastructure investments are among the most important areas to protect from federal budget cuts, second only to healthcare.

The mayors also stressed the importance of continued partnership to meet the challenges of the 21st century. "We can jumpstart a national climate change strategy - and create new green jobs - with cost-effective projects in our own backyards," said Toronto mayor David Miller. "We can make our economy more productive by investing in public transit and reducing traffic gridlock. We can make Canada greener and more prosperous, but we have to continue working together."

The mayors called on all parties in the House of Commons to sustain important, core federal funding for cities, including the permanent Gas Tax Fund, the 100 per cent GST refund, and affordable housing programs.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has been the national voice of municipal government since 1901. With 1,796 members, FCM represents the interests of municipalities on policy and program matters that fall within federal jurisdiction. Members include Canada's largest cities, small urban and rural communities, and 18 provincial and territorial municipal associations.

SOURCE Federation of Canadian Municipalities

For further information: For further information: Maurice Gingues, (613) 907-6395 or mgingues@fcm.ca

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