OTTAWA – Municipalities struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic are getting a small boost from the federal government, but not as much as they had been asking for.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the government will fast-track $2.2 billion in the form of an accelerated GST rebate to help support communities as the country slowly eases restrictions brought in to help weather the health crisis.
“This means that $2.2 billion in annual federal infrastructure funding for communities will be delivered in one payment in June,” a release explains. “Early delivery of the full funding for 2020-21 will help communities quickly move forward with infrastructure projects that will improve our quality of life and help restart local economies.”
However, the announcement comes after the Federation of Canadian Municipalities appealed for at least $10 billion in emergency funding.
— Cormac Mac Sweeney (@cmaconthehill) June 1, 2020
Trudeau says the money can be used for construction projects to meet local infrastructure needs and put people to work.
“This is strong support to keep Canadians safe and our communities strong. And it’s support that will give businesses the confidence to reopen, getting hard working Canadians back on the job,” Trudeau says.
Municipalities have seen steep losses in revenues through the COVID-19 pandemic as fewer people pay for transit or parking, and recreation centres stay closed without programs to fill local coffers.
The City of Vancouver reported last month that more than 13,000 business closures and about 90,000 people losing their jobs in April resulted in losses of about $2 billion. Toronto alone says it’s facing a $1.5-billion shortfall this fiscal year and will need to slash services.