CUPE is calling on the federal government to work with the provinces to provide immediate, direct support to local governments. From coast to coast to coast, municipalities are ensuring that vital public services are still being delivered through the COVID-19 pandemic – but stark fiscal challenges are jeopardizing their ability to continue providing those services.
“We know how important these services are to keeping communities afloat as we weather the COVID-19 storm,” said CUPE National President Mark Hancock. “Canadians are relying on their local governments to deliver safe and clean drinking water, to keep public transit running so our health care workers can get to work, to keep first responders on the road – and so much more. We can’t afford to let them down – they need direct financial support, and they need it now.”
“Canadians can’t do without these services – but local governments are straining to keep them running,” said CUPE National Secretary-Treasurer Charles Fleury. “Local governments shouldn’t have to fight this alone – they need federal and provincial support right away.”
Property tax deferrals and the loss of fees for things like recreation services, parking, and building and events permits are hurting local governments’ ability to pay their employees and keep services running. Municipalities do not have the fiscal levers that the federal and provincial governments have to help make up the shortfall.
As public sector employers, municipalities are also unable to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) even though they are losing critical amounts of revenue, as CUPE outlined in a letter to Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Employment Minister Carla Qualtrough earlier this month.
The US Congress recently allotted US$67.5 billion for direct support to municipalities in its COVID-19 relief package. Some experts believe a commensurate package for Canadian municipalities would be in the range of $10 billion.
CUPE represents almost 200,000 workers in the municipal sector who work in public transit, sanitation, roads, water, planning, public health, child care, and more. Their essential work touches the lives of Canadians every day.