Liberals transfer money to cities for transit fare shortfalls

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The federal government is offering cities a one-time cash injection of $750 million to help offset the shortfall in public transit revenue related to COVID-19.

But the commitment comes with what Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland calls two “reasonable requirements”.

Provinces need to match funding and work with cities to increase housing supply faster.

Freeland says municipalities need financial assistance to manage the economic impacts of the pandemic and maintain public transit systems.

Ridership fell precipitously during the first wave of COVID-19 and remained low thanks to a series of restrictions, depriving municipal coffers of the money needed to run and maintain buses, subways and transit systems. Light Rail.

The mayors of Canada’s largest cities asked during last year’s federal election for a multi-year funding commitment to help address deficits that may take beyond the pandemic to recover.

Late last month, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities raised the need for urgent financial support as the Omicron wave of COVID-19 further strained systems, projecting serious ridership and revenue issues. .

In Toronto, the operating deficit this year is expected to be $561 million, Edmonton is forecasting a deficit of $53.7 million and Vancouver is expecting a deficit of up to $100 million.

The federation’s big-city mayors’ caucus has warned that insufficient funding could lead to public transit cuts, fare hikes or property tax increases that could limit economic recovery.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, who leads the group of big city mayors, called the funding commitment key to maintaining transit services and stabilizing municipal budgets, and welcomed the opportunity to work with provincial leaders to get the money flowing.

The Liberals are offering $750 million to cities to make up for the shortfall in public transit fares. #CDNPoli #Transit #Covid19

The Department of Finance says provincial and territorial funding would be based on a formula that takes into account ridership and population figures.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published on February 17, 2022.

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