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B.C. union official 'cautiously optimistic' feds delivering Canadian municipalities targeted grants

Last Updated Apr 13, 2020 at 10:12 pm PDT

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CUPE BC official says municipalities might be able to expect help from Ottawa to deal with fiscal shortfalls

CUPE president says he anticipates municipalities may hear something from the federal government in the days ahead

Vancouver's mayor has warned his city could come up half-a-billion dollars short

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — The head of B.C.’s largest public-sector union is suggesting help should — or could — be on the way from Ottawa this week for cities throughout Canada dealing with fiscal shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

CUPE BC President Paul Faoro says conversations have been taking place about finding interim-relief for cities facing lower tax revenues.

“Now our National Union is working hard, pushing and advocating with the federal government and I’m cautiously optimistic that the federal government in the days ahead, will deliver some type of in term relief to those local cities and governments,” he says.

Faoro adds but he’s not sure giving cities and towns the ability to carry debt is the right idea.

“I get the attraction of being able to run a deficit. However, at some point you’re going to need to pay it back, and then the discussion really needs to be, how do you recover from a deficit situation,” he says.

Municipalities aren’t legally allowed to run deficits budgets.

RELATED ARTICLE: COVID-19 could cost Vancouver half a billion dollars, lead to further layoffs: mayor

The discussion comes on the heels of Vancouver’s mayor warning of a half-billion-dollar shortfall in revenues due to home-owners being unable to pay their property taxes — among other things — because of the pandemic.

On Sunday Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart said the city might be forced to lay off more staff and sell municipal land if the federal and provincial governments don’t provide more help to cope with the new coronavirus.

“The city would be in dire financial circumstances, really unable to perform our most basic duties, and this isn’t just the City of Vancouver, this is happening right across Canada,” he said.

Stewart added the city needs “immediate help” from the federal and provincial governments.

-With files from Mike Hall, Jonathan Szekeres and Nikitha Martins