Ont. municipalities calling for financial aid from federal, provincial governments
KITCHENER -- Municipalities in Ontario are asking for billions of dollars in financial relief from both the federal and provincial governments.
Representatives for the municipalities, including Waterloo Region, said the municipalities need at least $10 billion to help with COVID-19 pandemic recovery. The money would prevent tax increases and service cuts, according to the municipalities.
Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie all expressed frustration on Monday at the lack of action from other levels of government. Guthrie is also chair of the Large Urban Mayors' Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO).
Redman said the region is looking at a year-end deficit of up to $17 million.
"Our choices will be to increase taxes or cut front line services and front line municipality staff," Redman said.
Without funding from the upper levels of government, Redman said the region, and other municipalities, will face some tough choices. The LUMCO said municipalities could be forced to cut family supports, reduce transit services and close parks without the funding.
"As the economy recovers, increasing property tax will happen at a time that people are least able to pay," she said. "Strong municipalities will be key to facilitate local economic recovery."
Redman said that it may seem like the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic is behind us, but health officials expect a second wave of the virus in the fall.