MFOA's Reports on the Financial Implications of the COVID-19 Pandemic *Second Report Now Available*
MFOA's second report on the financial implications of the COVID-19 pandemic for municipalities is now available. The purpose of the second report is to present a municipal finance 'officer's perspective on key considerations in the development of an infrastructure stimulus program. Our recommendations are as follows:
- For an infrastructure project to be shovel-worthy, it must reflect municipal priorities, be informed by a municipality's asset management plan, and contribute to municipal sustainability as well as community vitality. It should also be timely, help restore employment to Ontarians who lost their jobs where possible, and address problems that have become more apparent during the pandemic.
- Programs should be flexible.
- Complete information, including timelines, about infrastructure programs past and present, be released as soon as possible.
- The definition of infrastructure should be expanded beyond '''hard' infrastructure to include '''social' and IT infrastructure.
- The federal and provincial governments should work with municipalities to arrive at appropriate cost-sharing arrangements for infrastructure stimulus programs.
- Infrastructure stimulus programs should use a hybrid formula-application model.
- Program processes and reporting should be streamlined.
- The provincial and federal governments should build on the current momentum and engage with their local counterparts in a national conversation about infrastructure, what types of infrastructure we will need in the future, and how best to fund it based on lessons learned from the pandemic.
Our first report looked at the impact of COVID-19 on municipalities up to the end of April 2020. A summary of recommendations is as follows:
- MFOA supports FCM’s recommendations to the federal government in principle
- The Province establish a support grant to compensate municipalities for targeted net lost revenues resulting from the COVID-19 emergency. Targeted revenue streams include transit and recreation.
- The provincial or federal government provide forgivable interest-free loans to municipalities to address revenue shortfalls of a temporal nature.
- The Province establish an emergency cost recovery grant to compensate municipalities for increased costs directly related to the COVID-19 emergency.
- The provincial and federal governments, under existing programs, maintain committed transfer payments to each municipality as planned for 2020-2022.
- The Province extend statutory and non-statutory reporting deadlines: 1-year deferrals for new requirements and 6-month deferrals for existing reporting deadlines. Timelines should be reviewed in tandem with the easing of restrictions.
- The Province continue to work closely with its municipal partner to learn “on the ground” lessons of the financial impacts of the pandemic and to plan for future recovery.
Thank you to those who provided input on the draft of the first report. For any questions or comments, please contact Shira Babins (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Christine Duong (email@example.com). Click here to visit MFOA's COVID-19 hub for the latest updates, resources, and recordings from past COVID-19 webinars.
*New* MFOA, in partnership with Welch LLP, have created a cheat sheet to help members interpret PS 3410 Government Transfers. To access the document click here.