‘We’re not immune to the crisis’: Bowman responds to FCM report

By | April 23, 2020

WINNIPEG — Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman echoed the calls from municipal governments for help from the federal government to help mitigate the damage from the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Thursday, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, an advocacy group representing municipal governments in Canada, released a report outlining the financial impacts facing municipalities due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“Cities across Canada are incredibly important economic drivers for provinces, in fact for the entire country,” Bowman told reporters during a Thursday afternoon news conference. “As Canadians are doing their part by staying home, they’re depending on municipal services more than ever before.

“Revenues are drying up across the country, while costs continue to rise. Combined with an inability to run deficits, cities are increasingly getting anxious about the future.”

Bowman said the city is in better position due to passing a multi-year budget, he added “We’re not immune to the crisis facing municipalities as the length of the pandemic continues to grow.”

This week, the City of Winnipeg announced cuts to transit routes, resulting in the temporary layoffs of 253 staffers.

The city is also predicting a budget shortfall of at least $78.1 million if the pandemic is over by August.

The FCM is asking Ottawa to deliver at least $10 billion in “targeted emergency operating funding” to all local governments, and also to provide immediate advance payments to municipalities facing “emergency liquidity issues.”

Bowman did not release a total the city is looking for, but said direct allocations are important.

“We don’t want to have funding and administrative red tape slow things down by having it go through provincial governments,” he said. “This is a direct appeal to the federal government for the benefit of municipal governments across Canada.”

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