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Big City Mayors Statement and Communique, January 22, 2004
January, 2004 -
Big City Mayor’s Statement and Communique, January 23, 2004.
Developing solutions for the financial and legislative challenges facing Canada's economic hub cities was the goal of the Mayors' Summit chaired by Toronto Mayor David Miller today. Mayors and representatives of Canada's major hub cities agreed on a set of recommendations for immediate action and for stronger partnerships with the federal and provincial governments. The final communiqué from the meeting calls for specific items to be included in the 2004 throne speech and federal budget, and also lays out the makings of a "new deal."
In the 2004 federal throne speech and budget:
1. Rebating 100% of the GST paid by municipalities and their agencies;
2. Accelerating the $2 billion investment in urban infrastructure through existing programs;
And, by the end of 2004, a new deal through partnership agreements:
3. Provide cities with a new net revenue source, based on the user-pay principle, of five cents per litre from the existing federal fuel excise tax;
4. Allow cities to address their priorities and invest in economic growth by retaining a share of locally-generated tax revenues that grow with the economy, such as income tax and/or federal and provincial sales tax revenue;
5. Match or exceed the average level of US and Western European governments' investment in municipal transit and transportation infrastructure;
6. Involve major hub cities as partners in federal and provincial policy, program and budget deliberations on issues that have a direct impact on major urban centres;
7. Introduce flexibility and improve the delivery and supply of existing affordable housing programs to focus on serving the needs of Canadians;
8. Make regulatory changes to support cities - for example, amending the income tax act to make employer-provided transit passes a tax-exempt benefit, or converting the Commercial Heritage Properties Incentive Fund to a tax credit program.
The full communiqué is available at the end of this news release.
Mayor Miller called the meeting to discuss the shared concerns of Canada's hub cities, and to develop a collective approach to federal and provincial governments.
"The success of our cities is a barometer of Canada's quality of life," said Mayor Miller. "We all agree that action is needed now to ensure that we have the money and the tools necessary to keep cities strong. The country's economic competitiveness depends on it," stated Mayor Miller.
Mayors and representatives at the meeting were:
Councillor Jim Green - Vancouver
Mayor Bob Chiarelli - Ottawa
Mayor Bill Smith - Edmonton
Mayor Gérald Tremblay - Montréal
Mayor Pat Fiacco - Regina
Councillor Jacques Jobin - Quebec City
Mayor Glen Murray - Winnipeg
Mayor Peter Kelly - Halifax
Mayor David Miller - Toronto
The mayors have agreed to continue working together. They will participate in a new National Forum on Economic Growth to be held in Montréal in spring 2004, which the FCM Big City Mayors will participate in and to which the federal and provincial governments will be invited. They will also meet again in Toronto in the fall of 2004.
Canada Needs Competitive Hub Cities
Canada's Major Hub Cities: Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City and Halifax are dynamic centres of economic, social and cultural development.
These cities and their regions generate 50% of Canada's GDP.
These cities are Canada's signature to the world. They are home to 88% of Canada's recent immigrants, a majority of Canada's Metis and First Nations people, and host to almost all of the foreign consular presence in Canada. The success of Canada's major hub cities is important for all Canadians:
The wealth generated in Canada's major hub cities underpins the high quality of life deserved by all Canadians. In a highly competitive global economy, Canada's future prosperity will be determined in the nation's major hub cities.
Canada's major hub cities face a common challenge:
Canada's major hub cities do not have the fiscal resources and provincial legislative tools needed to fulfil their responsibilities. The environmental sustainability and quality of life in these cities - and the nation's economic competitiveness - depend on overcoming this challenge. Our objective is not to increase the overall tax burden of Canadians. Rather, it is to ensure that Canadian cities retain a fair share of the existing tax revenues their communities generate. Compared to large urban centres in the US, Europe and elsewhere, Canada's major hub cities:
- have fewer sources of revenue and are overly dependent on property taxes
- receive less financial assistance from other orders of government, and
- have limited legislative tools
Canada's major hub cities need to be better equipped to compete on the nation's behalf in the global marketplace.
The mayors of Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax call on the Federal and Provincial governments to strengthen Canada's competitiveness in partnership with Canada's cities.
The 2004 Throne Speech and Federal budget should:
1. Rebate 100% of the GST paid by municipalities and their agencies.
This action would reduce the federal tax burden on municipalities by $525 million a year. Federal and provincial governments do not pay sales taxes. As partners, neither should municipal governments. In addition to a full GST rebate, relief from provincial sales taxes is needed.
2. Accelerate investment in urban infrastructure through existing programs.
Two billion dollars are promised by the Federal Government over the next 10 years through the Strategic Infrastructure Fund. Availability of this funding should be accelerated to 2004, while new frameworks to provide adequate, stable, long-term funding for infrastructure, transit and transportation are negotiated.
2005 Federal Budget:
By the end of 2004, new partnership agreements should:
3. Provide cities with a new net revenue source, based on the user-pay principle, of five cents per litre from the existing federal fuel excise tax.
- This measure would generate net new revenues of $2.5 billion a year for Canadian municipalities dedicated to infrastructure, transportation and transit.
4. Allow cities to address their priorities and invest in economic growth by retaining a share of locally-generated tax revenues that grow with the economy, such as:
- a share of federal and provincial sales tax revenue
- a share of income tax revenue
5. Match or exceed the average level of US and Western European governments' investment in municipal transit and transportation infrastructure:
- Canada cannot remain the only G7 country without a national transit investment program.
6. Involve major hub cities as partners in Federal and Provincial policy, program and budget deliberations on issues that have a direct impact on major urban centres.
7. Introduce flexibility and improve the delivery and supply of existing affordable housing programs to focus on serving the needs of Canadians.
8. Make regulatory changes to support cities. For example:
- Amending the federal Income Tax Act to make employer-provided transit passes a tax-exempt benefit, which would help reduce gridlock.
- Converting the Commercial Heritage Properties Incentive Fund to a tax credit program.
Embracing these proposals and a new spirit of partnership will:
- Allow Canadian cities to close the infrastructure gap and address local priorities, and
- Support the fiscal position of Provincial and Federal governments, who will benefit from expanded economic activity.
The mayors of Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax will help the Federal and Provincial governments deliver a New Deal for Canada's cities. We will:
1. Participate in a new National Forum on Economic Growth to be held in Montreal in the spring of 2004
- The FCM Big City Mayors will participate.
- Federal and Provincial governments will be invited.
2. Ensure our staff work closely together, sharing best practices and research.
3. Help local residents and business understand how municipal finance and legislative arrangements (established by the Federal and Provincial governments) impact the quality of life and competitiveness of their city.
4. Meet again in Toronto in the fall of 2004.
For further information: