Mayors pressure candidates to get serious on municipal funding
A group of Quebec mayors wants provincial politicians to shelve sovereignty chatter and start focusing on the funding of cities.
Twenty mayors, including Montreal mayor Denis Coderre and Quebec City mayor Regis Labeaume met Monday to express impatience with the direction of the provincial political campaign.
The mayors want the province to spend more time on two issues, the pension plan issue and infrastructure spending.
Without action on the pension file, the mayors say they will have to raise residential taxes by about $300 for the average Quebec home.
Mayor Coderre noted that Montreal’s municipal employee pension deficit of $2.1 billion costs the city $600 million per year, effectively 12 percent of the city’s entire budget. That’s a radical hike from the $130 million it cost in 2002.
The mayors want legislation tabled just prior to the election campaign to be reintroduced as soon as a new government is formed.
The PQ legislation would have taken up to 18-months to finalize. Employers and workers would have been given six months to come to an agreement, failing which the Minister of Labour would appoint a conciliator. If no deal was made, the Labour Relations Commission would decide for them.
Every moment of delay will just increase the cost, noted Labeaume.
The mayors are also asking for $650 million more per year to upgrade municipal infrastructure.
-With a file from The Canadian Press