Kitchener joins Canada’s FCM municipalities in seeking emergency funding for COVID-19
KITCHENER Ontario – Today, over a month into the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and the City of Kitchener joined the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and municipalities nationwide in calling for emergency federal funding to continue supporting Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic.
“From deferring utility charges and property taxes to opening new shelter facilities for those most vulnerable, local leaders at both the municipal and regional orders of government are working flat- out to support our residents through this pandemic,” said Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic. “However, a combination of new expenses, significant drops in revenue and no freedom to run deficits, city’s like Kitchener and all municipalities throughout Waterloo region and across Canada need emergency funding to keep essential services going strong.”
FCM’s data shows municipalities facing a minimum of $10-15 billion in near-term, non-recoverable losses due to COVID-19. That figure includes foregone or delayed property taxes, utility charges and user fees— including an estimated $400 million each month from lost transit ridership alone. At the same time, municipalities are taking unprecedented steps to support public health and safety.
Cities and communities are major economic drivers for Canada. The emerging crisis represents a destabilizing force for our national economy and the daily lives of all Canadians. In the absence of significant action from either provincial or federal governments to address severe revenue shortfalls resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, FCM is calling on all orders of government to work together in partnership, starting today with an appeal to national leadership.
“The City of Kitchener has been diligent in recent years to reduce its debt and rebuild its reserves for a rainy day”, said Ward 1 Councillor & Finance and Administration Committee Chair, Scott Davey. “However, we are facing unprecedented challenges which are not sustainable without significant support from our federal and provincial partners.”
To fill the gap, FCM urges at least $10 billion in emergency operating funding. This includes at least $7.6 billion in direct federal allocations to all municipalities, plus $2.4 billion for those with transit systems. This core would be supplemented with additional funds for municipalities facing extraordinary challenges supporting isolation and good health among vulnerable populations. Locally, this funding, if supported by the federal government, could mean approximately $1 million for our smallest municipality, to as much as $80 million for the Region of Waterloo. For the City of Kitchener, it could mean as much as $24 million.
“After focusing on individual Canadians and businesses, emergency funding for municipalities is the next step to get Canadians through this pandemic,” said Mayor Vrbanovic. “Key services from fire and ambulance to the provision of clean water and maintaining critical infrastructure, this request is about delivering vital services when people need them the most. We’re all in this together, and this proposal builds on our well established municipal-federal partnership to use these dollars to help get our residents and our communities through this crisis—and to use any remaining dollars, to be ready, when the time comes, to begin to drive the economic recovery everyone will be counting on.”
The City of Kitchener and all municipalities within Waterloo region are members of FCM. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) unites nearly 2,000 local governments at the national level, representing more than 90 per cent of Canadians in every province and territory.