Cities ask Liberals for up to $15B to stave off COVID-19 budget crisis


OTTAWA — A group representing Canada’s cities says municipal budgets are on the brink of financial crisis due to COVID-19 unless the federal government gives billions of dollars in help.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities says cities will need between $10 billion and $15 billion over the next six months to pay for services while they see revenues decline.

Transit ridership and parking revenue is down as people stay home due to the pandemic, while recreation centres and arenas that would normally be bustling also remain closed.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson, who chairs the federation’s big city mayors’ caucus, says communities face “non-recoverable financial losses” and need the money to keep essential municipal services running.

Some municipal councils are thinking about approving, or have already approved, delays in collecting property taxes to give residents a financial break.

Still others have had to lay off staff to keep costs down and find a way to balance their budgets at the end of the year because they can’t run deficits like Ottawa or the provinces.