As many of you will have heard, there is a growing national debate on the state of our cities, particularly crumbling infrastructure (roads, water/sewer systems, bridges, etc.).
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) cites a $60 billion backlog of infrastructure repair work in Canadas cities. The combination of provincial downloading, lack of federal funding and increasing pressure on city property tax bases have combined to see this infrastructure deficit grow significantly in recent years.
The FCM and Canadas big city mayors have been calling for new revenue sources for municipalities. Options put forward include a rebate on GST payments, a portion of the federal automotive fuel tax and a portion of federal/provincial income and corporate taxes.
CUPE supports the call for a New Deal for Canadian Cities as our municipal members know all too well about the declining state of our infrastructure.
To this end, we have been engaged in a number of activities to support the New Deal initiative:
- In December 2003, we wrote all Canadian mayors with CUPEs legal opinion on the impact of trade deals on Canadian municipal governments.
- Meeting with the FCM to coordinate New Deal activities. We will also attend the annual FCM convention in Edmonton in late May.
In January, I attended Toronto Mayor David Millers meeting of ten Big-City Mayors on the New Deal. The presidents of Local 79 (Toronto-inside) and Local 416 (Toronto-outside) also attended this meeting.
- In late January, together with the president of Local 30 (Edmonton-outside), I attended a meeting with Mayor Bill Smith to offer our support for the New Deal initiative.
- In mid-February I met with former BC Premier Mike Harcourt who is heading up a federal committee on the Cities file.
- We will continue to meet with Canadian mayors to work with them on a New Deal for Canadian Cities.