CUPE Ontario and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) have joined forces in a first-ever joint letter to the Premier and the Minister of Municipal Affairs seeking urgent financial help for struggling municipal governments.

The President of CUPE Ontario, which represents 80,000 municipal employees, Fred Hahn, and the President of AMO, which represents most of the province’s 440 municipal councils, Jamie McGarvey, detailed the dire situation for local governments.

“Today, Ontario’s municipal governments are struggling to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, to help community members get through each new day, and to play their indispensable role in rebuilding our damaged economy,” the letter says. “AMO and CUPE both want to help municipalities to find solutions that protect public service delivery without laying off workers. There is simply no real resolution to this immediate and longer-term financial crisis without material intervention from the other orders of government.”

Detailed proposals made in today’s CUPE-AMO joint letter included:

  • Establish an appropriate cost share arrangement for mandated municipally operated services such as public health, land ambulance services and public transit.
  • Increase funding to the 47 municipal service mangers that deliver critical local services and have relationships with community agencies.
  • Allow Ontario’s municipal governments the ability to have the full range of revenue tools under the City of Toronto Act to use after a council deliberation and approval.

“That these are unprecedented times with COVID-19 is exemplified by the fact that AMO and CUPE, organizations representing employers and workers respectively, have written together with a shared call for the provincial government to protect local services and jobs through increased financial support to struggling municipalities,” said Hahn. “Our cities and towns - our communities - need enhanced support today and into the future, to ensure a real recovery from the pandemic.”

Both Hahn and McGarvey stressed that allowing municipalities to incur operating debt is not a solution to the financial challenges the crisis imposes.

“CUPE and AMO support the recent initiative by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) asking Ottawa for immediate funding assistance, including for public transit,” said Ann Jenkins, Chair of CUPE’s Ontario’s Municipal Employees Coordinating Committee.

“I’m proud of our members for doing the best they can in these challenging times,” added Jenkins. “And for recognizing that communities will recover when our local governments and the public services they provide are supported. Both the federal and provincial governments have to step up now.”

The CUPE and AMO Presidents both said they looked forward to an opportunity to discuss their proposals with the government in person.