June 1st, 2020

Horwath: Municipalities need Doug Ford to get off the sidelines and finally do his part to avoid deep cuts to jobs and public services

QUEEN’S PARK – NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath says federal support for municipal infrastructure is welcome, but still leaves many municipalities without the operating funding they desperately need. Horwath is calling on Premier Doug Ford to step up and fill that gap, ensuring municipalities have the emergency funding they need to run day cares, transit systems, public health units and water treatment facilities and so much more after the pandemic has wreaked havoc on municipal finances.

“Families count on their local governments to provide essential services like child care, public transit and public health. All those services are now at risk as municipalities sink into the red, and Doug Ford needs to stop pretending that it’s Ottawa’s responsibility alone to throw them a lifeline,” said Horwath. “Ford has not given them the support they desperately need to make it through the pandemic and to rebuild the local economies that have been left shattered by this crisis — but he can change that today by committing to fund the gap and keep services intact.”

The City of Toronto alone says it has a $1.5 billion shortfall as a result of COVID-19, which it warns will result in transit cuts, firefighting cuts, child care cuts, long-term care cuts and more, if the upper levels of government don’t step in with emergency financial support. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has estimated the hole in operating budgets across all cities at between $10 billion and $15 billion over the next six months.

“The federal government’s move to transfer infrastructure money a bit faster is a welcome first step — but it will barely scratch the surface of what’s needed,” said NDP Municipal Affairs critic Jeff Burch, who tabled a motion last week in the Ontario legislature that would give emergency financial support to municipalities that have been deeply impacted by COVID-19.

“Cities and towns throughout the province are on the verge of devastating cuts if Ford does not step up and provide funding right away,” said Burch. “And those cuts will stop the economic recovery Ontario needs. Not only are municipal jobs on the line, but the loss of services like child care and transit would hamper everyone’s return to work — especially women, and there cannot be a recovery without a she-covery.

“It’s time for the provincial government to step up and create some relief and certainty for municipalities and families who count on them.”