Amid the ongoing stresses of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario municipalities are demanding access to billions in emergency relief.
It's part of a national effort led by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to land a minimum of $10 billion dollars from Ottawa and the provincial governments.
The plan would allocate $4 billion to Ontario municipalities to help offset lost transit revenues and added service costs.
Municipalities say if the funding doesn't come through, they will have some tough choices ahead, including raising property taxes, user fees or cutting services.
London City Hall has already laid off staff and reduced services, but the municipality still faces a multi-million dollar budget deficit this year stemming from the pandemic.
“The request from FCM (Federation of Canadian Municipalities) to the federal government was way back in April. Here we are in July and we have the same problem, except it’s worse.” explains Deputy Mayor Jesse Helmer.
Helmer warns time is running out before London city council will have to make even tougher choices.
“The time is now for the province and the federal government to help out municipalities and ensure those services can continue without huge property tax hikes.”
On Monday, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario, and the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, met to discuss the COVID-19 financial situation.
They released a joint statement stressing the importance municipalities across Ontario played in the fight against COVID-19, resulting in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional costs and lost revenues.
They commend the work the federal government and Queen's Park have done so far but are hoping to see the issue addressed in Ottawa's fiscal update later this week.