FCM President Garth Frizzell issued the following statement at the conclusion of the March 9-12 online meeting of FCM’s Board of Directors, comprising elected municipal officials from communities of all sizes and regions across Canada.
“This Board meeting took place against the backdrop of the next federal budget, a key opportunity to empower municipal leaders with tools to keep their communities safe and poised for recovery. The COVID-19 pandemic showed how important communities of all sizes are in people’s daily lives, and by investing in proven tools and building on past successes, we can keep our federal-municipal partnership working for Canadians and kickstart economic recovery from the ground up.
“Local leaders know how to generate tangible results on the ground—results that have an immediate and positive impact in the places where Canadians live, work and raise their families. By focusing on scaling up proven solutions like the Rapid Housing Initiative and the Gas Tax Fund, we can tackle urgent needs while also creating the jobs Canadians need to recover from this pandemic.
“In November 2020, FCM released recommendations for a strong, community-rooted post-COVID recovery. That document still stands as a roadmap for the recovery to come, but FCM has put forward key elements to prioritize in Budget 2021.
“FCM recommends doubling the Gas Tax Fund allocation for three years, as a Municipal Economic Recovery Fund. This would empower communities of all sizes to kickstart job-creating infrastructure projects that meet local needs, whether that’s upgrading a recreation facility or fixing a bridge. This means direct stimulus for Canadians nationwide, including in rural, northern and remote communities, which drive nearly one-third of Canada’s economy. To further support the rural recovery Canada needs, FCM recommends optimizing other tools as well, including the Disaster Mitigation and Adaptation Fund and the Reaching Home homelessness strategy.
“To do this right, we need to consider the unique challenges communities face across the country. Western communities already faced deep economic anxiety before this pandemic, which has only made things worse. FCM’s Western Economic Solutions Task Force has proposed a suite of concrete solutions for this budget, which include maximizing the impact of new regional development agencies for BC and the Prairies, expanding the National Trade Corridors Fund, and creating an Energy Transition Community Infrastructure Fund to help local leaders create new opportunities.
“Budget 2021 should also deliver bold action on affordable housing, including scaling up the new Rapid Housing Initiative. By building on this proven federal-municipal partnership, we can tackle chronic homelessness in this pandemic—and get a serious head-start on creating jobs for Canada’s recovery. FCM’s proposal would permanently deliver 24,000 more affordable and supportive homes to some of the most vulnerable people in our cities and communities.
“FCM’s recommendations build on recent collaboration among orders of government. This is the collaboration that kept frontline municipal services running with last year’s Safe Restart Agreement. As COVID continues to fuel municipal operating budget shortfalls, we’ll need a durable solution that includes provinces and territories. That way, instead of gearing down job-creating projects to cover shortfalls, municipalities can start gearing up to drive a strong post-COVID recovery—in communities of all sizes, from coast to coast to coast.”
For more information: FCM Media Relations, (613) 907-6395, firstname.lastname@example.org