NDP critic for Infrastructure and Communities Taylor Bachrach (Skeena-Bulkley Valley) is urging the government to get financial assistance to municipalities suffering extreme budget shortfalls because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Municipalities need guarantees that they will have the resources they need to continue delivering services during the crisis. Last week, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities requested $10 billion in emergency relief for municipalities from the federal government as local governments face a financial crisis that threatens their ability to deliver essential public services.
“Now more than ever we need to ensure that municipalities can continue to do the vital work that supports communities. Local governments are not allowed to run deficits, so if they don’t get help the only choice left will be to cut services and lay off staff,” said Bachrach. “This would be devastating to local services Canadians depend on and would threaten even more jobs. Further job losses will only make it more difficult for the economy to recover.”
The federal government has yet to announce any plan to help municipalities and the many local governments and transit agencies that have already had to make cuts and fear being forced to make more. Last week, Translink announced nearly 1,500 layoffs and reduced transit service across Metro Vancouver. The Union of BC Municipalities supported the calls for emergency operating funding from the federal government as communities struggle to continue providing essential services.
“Municipal leaders have been clear about the financial crisis they are facing. But the government has left municipalities waiting,” said Bachrach. “It’s vital that the federal government acts now, before more jobs and services are lost. If they don’t these losses could be permanent,” added Bachrach.