Liberals offer transit help for cities
OTTAWA— The federal government is offering cities a one time cash infusion of $750 million to help make up for shortfalls in transit revenues linked to COVID-19.
But the pledge comes with what FinanceMinister Chrystia Freeland calls two “reasonable requirements.”
Provinces must match the funding, and work with cities to more quickly increase the supply of housing.
Freeland says municipalities need the financial help to manage the economic repercussions of the pandemic and maintain transit systems.
Ridership dropped precipitously during the first wave of COVID-19 and has remained low through rounds of restrictions, depriving municipal coffers of the money needed to run and maintain buses, subways and light-rail systems.
The mayors of Canada’s biggest cities asked during last year’s federal election for a multi-year funding commitment to help make up shortfalls that could
take beyond the pandemic to recoup.
Late last month, the Federation of CanadianMunicipalities raised the need for urgent financial support as the Omicron wave of COVID-19 further strained systems, projecting serious ridership and revenue problems.
The federation’s big city mayors’ caucus warned that too little funding could lead to transit cuts, fare hikes or property tax increases that could limit the economic recovery.
The Finance Department says funding for provinces and territories would be based on a formula that considers ridership and population counts.
— The Canadian Press