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Burlington Mayor Sends Letters to MPs, MPPs Stressing Urgent Need for COVID-19 Financial Relief

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Following up on a virtual meeting on Friday (July 10) I had with the three MPs and three MPPs who represent the City of Burlington, I sent a letter highlighting our City’s financial shortfall due to COVID-19 and stressing the need for urgent financial relief to all municipalities.

Burlington’s MPs are: the Honourable Karina Gould, Burlington MP and Minister of International Development; Oakville North-Burlington MP Pam Damoff, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Indigenous Services; and Milton MP Adam van Koeverden, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Diversity and Inclusion and Youth & to the Minister of Canadian Heritage (Sport).

Burlington’s MPPs are: Burlington MPP Jane McKenna, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development; Oakville North-Burlington MPP Effie Triantafilopoulos, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Long-Term Care; and Milton MPP Parm Gill, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.

I have included the letters below.

July 13, 2020

Dear MPs and MPPs, representing the City of Burlington,

Thank you for meeting with me and senior members of our City staff on Friday, July 10 to discuss the financial impacts of COVID-19 to Burlington.

As of the most recent projections provided by our staff, we are facing a hit from revenue loss and additional costs due to COVID-19-related costs of approximately $18 million at year-end. This forecast assumes resumption of business as usual after Labour Day – as that is unlikely, our financial picture is expected to be even worse. We receive monthly updates from our staff and will continue to provide you with those updated figures as the year progresses.

Through cuts and cost-containment, we have managed to reduce our shortfall by more than $10 million, to a net shortfall of $8.19 million. We’ve done our part to cut costs and find savings wherever we can, including even before COVID-19 began, by participating in the Provincial Audit & Accountability Fund initiative last year that found additional savings.

However, we cannot cut anymore without impacting the frontline and essential services our residents depend on, or depleting our reserves – leaving our community vulnerable in responding to any future emergencies that may emerge, including any potential resurgences of COVID-19.

We are all working very hard to mitigate the financial impact to Burlington and responding to the COVID-19 regulations from our federal and provincial partners has downloaded additional costs to municipalities – ours included.

Municipalities deliver frontline, essential services and are key to our economic recovery and that requires the urgent support from our upper-level partner governments all working together towards this goal. We are grateful for the support that has already been provided by both levels of government throughout this pandemic.

Our projected shortfall could translate into a potential tax increase of 3 to 4 per cent. This level of tax increase is unacceptable given how many of our residents have lost their jobs, and how many businesses are struggling to stay afloat. The alternatives are equally unacceptable: cutting frontline services, or depleting reserves that would leave our community unprotected for the next emergency we may face. That is why we urgently need the federal and provincial governments to step in with financial assistance.

Investing in municipalities will help ensure we continue providing the services needed to restart local economies and those our residents depend on, particularly at a time when they need them the most.

There needs to be a fair and equitable deal for Ontario and for all its municipalities – small, rural, mid-sized and large. That deal also needs to ensure the federal gas tax stays at the current pre-COVID level moving forward.

Municipalities that have managed their finances well – the Region of Halton is AAA-rated, and the City of Burlington has been very lean and responsible with its finances – should not be penalized, but rather get our fair share.

The City of Burlington and Council want to work together with all our government partners to ensure a healthy and safe restart of the economy.

Sincerely,

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

City of Burlington

PLEASE NOTE: To stay updated on what the City of Burlington is doing regarding COVID-19, please visit the dedicated pages burlington.ca/coronavirus (and subscribe) and bit.ly/mayormeedwardCOVID19updates, and our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page — bit.ly/COVID19BurlingtonFAQ that are updated as new information becomes available.

A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at burlington.ca/COVID19taskforce.

To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.

We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to bit.ly/covidwallofinspiration.

HELPFUL RESOURCES & RELATED LINKS:

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Marianne Meed Ward

Marianne Meed Ward

A Better Burlington began in 2006 after my neighbours said they felt left out of city decisions, learning about them only after they’d been made. As journalist for 22 years, I thought “I can do something about that” and a website and newsletter were born. They’ve taken various forms and names over the years, but the intent remains: To let you know what’s happening at City Hall before decisions are made, so you can influence outcomes for A Better Burlington. The best decisions are made when elected representatives tap the wisdom of our community members, and welcome many different perspectives.This site allows residents to comment and debate with each other; our Commenting Guidelines established in 2016 aim to keep debate respectful. Got an idea or comment you want to share privately? Please, get in touch:

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