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OTTAWA - Canada’s new record surplus cannot co-exist with crumbling cities, Canada’s largest union said today, responding to Finance Minister Ralph Goodale’s reiteration of yesterday that cities will only get a small portion of the federal gas tax in the upcoming budget.

“One cent per litre of gasoline tax in 2005-06 is too little, too slow,” said CUPE National President Paul Moist. “Goodale needs to meet our cities’ pressing needs with firmer resolve and include diesel fuel tax in the transfer. Cities need the combined fuel tax transfer now, not incrementally.”

Goodale, in Winnipeg yesterday, reiterated that his government intends to begin transferring a portion of just the gas tax through the coming federal budget for the year 2005-06, amounting to one cent per litre despite another record budget surplus.

CUPE, alongside the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and Canada’s mayors, has been calling for diesel fuel to be included in this formula, and for the full amount to be transferred immediately. The combined fuel tax would yield approximately $2.5 billion per year, based on five cents per litre of the gas tax and two cents per litre of the diesel tax.

An incremental transfer from the gas tax, excluding the diesel tax, will not come close to addressing the $60 billion infrastructure deficit that Canada faces, said Moist.

Moist noted that the federal government’s inaction is made even more apparent by the fact that the federal Liberals are sitting on - another - record budget surplus. It was reported today that the surplus for the first eight months of fiscal year 2005-06 is a whopping $10.7 billion.

“The money is there,” said Moist. “Now we need the leadership.”

Paul Moist, National President, cell (613) 558-2873;
Claude Gnreux, National Secretary-Treasurer (porte-parole francophone), cell (613) 794-8395;
David Robbins, CUPE Communications, cell (613) 878-1431.