Municipalities plead for emergency help to keep vital services going

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OTTAWA — The voice of Canadian municipalities says communities across the country are facing a financial crisis due to COVID-19 that puts people at further risk.

Federation of Canadian Municipalities president Bill Karsten told the House of Commons finance committee today that plummeting revenues are endangering essential services, from policing to garbage collection.

Karsten says about 25,000 jobs have been lost at the municipal level as a result of the pandemic, with some 7,000 temporary positions going unfilled.

He says that with few fiscal tools available and no legal ability to run deficits, municipal leaders are confronting challenges they’ve never seen before.

The federation is asking for at least $10 billion in emergency operating money for local governments.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said this week the federal government is very aware of the urgency of the difficulties facing municipalities.

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