Safe Restart Agreement

December 9, 2020

The Federal Government’s Safe Restart Agreement promises $19 billion to provinces and territories, but how the funds are distributed is crucial. 

On November 23, it was announced that the City of Vancouver would receive $16.3M in Safe Restart Agreement (SRA) funding. This amount falls $41.1M short of the total funds that should have been allocated to the City based on the allocation formula outlined in the Safe Restart Agreement’s Appendix. With the City facing significant funding shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are concerned about the potential for cuts to critical municipal services upon which we all rely. 

The VDLC will be writing to government in relation to this, having passed the following motion at our December 2020 regular meeting. 

BECAUSE the Federal Government’s Safe Restart Agreement (SRA) promises $19 billion to provinces and territories for the safe restart of economies and to promote resiliency in light of the COVID-19 pandemic; and

BECAUSE these funds are to address seven priority areas, of which support for municipalities is one; and

BECAUSE the SRA states that “Municipalities are on the front lines of a safe restart of the economy and will need to put in place appropriate precautions to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and manage public spaces and critical services, like public transit. The Government of Canada will contribute up to $2 billion to support municipalities with COVID-19 operating costs for the next six to eight months. Provincial and territorial governments will continue to support municipalities and will cost-match federal supports with investments made this fiscal year. In addition, the Government of Canada will also cost-match more than $2.3 billion to support any additional provincial/territorial contributions for public transit.”; and

BECAUSE some of these funds have already been dispensed to municipalities, via the province, and access to additional funds is anticipated in the near future; and

BECAUSE  the previously dispensed funds were provided using a distribution metric developed by the Provincial Government that disproportionately saw federal money going to small municipalities, leaving cities like Vancouver receiving less money per-capita than other similar sized cities across Canada,

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL call upon the Provincial Government to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of SRA funds to municipalities which gives due consideration to population density and alleviating pandemic-related funding shortfalls; and

THE VANCOUVER AND DISTRICT LABOUR COUNCIL WILL call upon municipalities to ensure that these funds are used to support crucial public services, and the workers who provide them, including library workers, parks and recreation staff, 311 operators, City Hall workers, support staff answering public inquiries, engineering, planning, and development staff, firefighters, as well as workers involved in operating water, sewage, waste collection, and other systems. It also includes direct service providers, including those providing critical services to vulnerable communities like Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. 

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