Ahead of Provincial Budget MNL Calls for Municipal Stability and Equal Partnership
For Immediate Release
Feb. 27, 2023
St. John’s, NL – In advance of Budget 2023 Municipalities Newfoundland and Labrador is calling on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador to recognize municipal governments as equal partners in delivering programs and services and to support municipal stability through meaningful action.
Building strong partnerships requires recognition of the needs of municipalities. MNL is asking for progress on three key issues: municipal fiscal stability, sustainable infrastructure, and regionalization.
Municipal Fiscal Stability
Municipal Operating Grants (MOGs) are an essential source of funding for municipalities. These grants are delivered to all municipalities in the province, with the exception of the largest seven. They are based on a per-capita formula that takes geography into account, and they have remained at a total amount of $22 million since 2015. This amount does not meet the needs of municipalities faced with rising costs on every front. MNL is asking that inflation be taken into account in the calculation of MOGs and is requesting an additional $6 million for MOGs this year.
Municipalities are responsible for approximately 60 percent of infrastructure in our communities, but they have not received the necessary funding support required to maintain this infrastructure, resulting in nearly $1-billion worth of drinking water and wastewater upgrades needed to bring systems up to date. Roads, bridges, and other municipal infrastructure assets are also in dire need of upgrades. MNL is calling on the provincial government to create a long-term municipal infrastructure plan that prioritizes spending based on planned needs, rather than on a competitive basis.
MNL is also concerned that funding earmarked for municipal infrastructure is not reaching our communities. Currently, $212.8 million or 38 percent of Newfoundland and Labrador’s allotment for the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) remains unspent, and needs to be allocated by March 31. Immediate action is needed. MNL is calling for clear and transparent information on how infrastructure is funded. It is requesting that any unallocated ICIP funding be transferred to the Canada Community Building Fund (CCBF), which is the most flexible funding program for municipal infrastructure.
Municipalities need and want regionalization. MNL members have been asking for this for more than 20 years. More than a year after releasing the Joint Working Group Report on Regionalization, the government remains silent on next steps. Without regionalization, and formalized regional approaches, the government is setting up municipalities to fail. We are calling on the province to act on its commitment to support municipalities and to update communities on progress made in advancing regionalization efforts.
“Municipalities are provincial government’s biggest partner in program and service delivery. We are asking that the government take meaningful action toward ensuring the viability of our communities. The stability of our communities depends on a respectful relationship in which municipalities are treated as equal partners.” – Amy Coady, MNL President.
Communications and Marketing Officer, MNL