June 18, 2020
NEWS RELEASE FROM THE PROVINCIAL AND TERRITORIAL MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
The Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Local Government held a teleconference earlier this week on support to local governments in light of COVID-19 and the signing of the Collaboration Agreement that establishes the mandate and a new governance framework of the Ministers’ Table. Provincial and territorial ministers regretted that Minister McKenna, federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, was not able to join them for the teleconference.
During these challenging times, many local governments are experiencing significant budgetary and operating issues due to decreased revenues and increased expenditures, all while they continue to provide vital front-line services to Canadians.
“The pandemic has placed tremendous pressure on all levels of government, and we recognize local governments must continue to provide services while also dealing with COVID-19,” said Minister Rochelle Squires, 2019-2020 Chair of the Table of Ministers Responsible for Local Government. “Manitoba is pleased to work with our provincial and territorial partners to share research, expertise and innovative best practices that support all of our communities.”
Ministers stressed the importance of substantial and timely federal funding to help local governments continue to deliver essential services to Canadians. Federal funding initiatives should be designed in collaboration with provinces and territories. Significant federal financial support should be allocated directly to provinces and territories and without cost or other additional obligations to provinces, territories and local governments. This will allow each provincial and territorial government, to work with local governments in their jurisdiction to address their unique circumstances. Ministers recognized the diverse needs and conditions across the country. Ministers reiterated that federal initiatives must be flexible and adaptable and that it is incumbent upon the provinces and territories to determine individually the appropriate type of consultation with their local governments.
Provinces and territories have already announced a number of COVID-19-related measures that provide direct and indirect financial support to local governments to reflect the diversity of roles and responsibilities, fiscal management tools and revenue raising capacity of local governments. The Table of Ministers also emphasized that strong and resilient local governments are a critical part to a safe restart.
The 2020 Collaboration Agreement, presented by Minister Squires of Manitoba and ratified by all 13 ministers, enhances co-operation and the exchange of information among provinces and territories. The Agreement demonstrates that all jurisdictions are committed to working together to support local governments.
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“We are working to build our capacity, through forums like the Provincial-Territorial Officials Committee on Local Government, to provide more proactive, timely and relevant services,” said Minister Squires. “The updated Collaboration Agreement refreshes the principles, objectives and mandate of the organization, and will promote effective local government affairs.”
The Ministers also discussed the Table’s priorities for 2020–2021 that will focus on financial sustainability of local governments in the context of the COVID-19 recovery, climate change adaptation, and infrastructure and asset management.
Ministers will continue to work together to support local governments throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, and look forward to being able to meet in person.
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The Province of Manitoba is distributing this news release on behalf of the Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Local Government.