Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the federal government is rushing $2.2 billion in funding made available to Canada’s struggling municipalities.
During a daily press conference on Monday, the prime minister revealed the funds would be sent through the yearly gas-tax fund months sooner than planned in an effort to ease municipalities’ cashflow concerns.
“Normally, municipalities receive these payments in two installments, but we know that cities and towns need this money right away as they deal with COVID-19,” said Trudeau from outside Rideau Cottage in Ottawa.
Trudeau said the federal government will be fast-tracking the entire 2020-2021 payments to be available for those that need it immediately.
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.
“This is support to keep Canadians safe and our communities strong,” said Trudeau. “It’s support that will give businesses the confidence to reopen, getting hard-working Canadians back on the job.”
The liquidity is meant to help communities move quickly on infrastructure projects that will improve our quality of life, create jobs and help jumpstart local economies.
The $2.2 billion is much less than municipalities say they need. The announcement comes after the Federation of Canadian Municipalities appealed for at least $10 billion in emergency funding.
Toronto alone says it’s facing a $1.5-billion shortfall this fiscal year and will need to slash services.
Although the money is seemingly less than what cities might feel is needed, Trudeau implies that more help could be on the way.
“This is a start, we know there is more to be done to support municipalities and to support the entire reopening process,” added Trudeau.
“In the days and weeks to come, we will keep working with the provinces and territories on this and on a whole range of other measures.”
Trudeau also outlined that further support to municipalities requires more time and planning.
“We will do more, but doing more needs to happen hand-in-hand with the provinces, who have jurisdiction over the municipalities,” said Trudeau.
During Monday’s press conference, Trudeau also took the time to address the ongoing protest situation down in the U.S., along with issues of racism that Canadians continue to face.