Prior to the pandemic, Canadian municipalities were by and large fiscally healthy – they balanced their operating budgets (which they are required to do by law), property tax increases were modest, tax arrears were relatively small, and they generally did not borrow heavily. More recently, municipalities have faced a pandemic and have been hit with high inflation and rising interest rates. These factors are beyond their control but impact their fiscal situation. Going forward, they face other challenges which will also affect their fiscal sustainability – an aging population, a growing infrastructure deficit, the impacts of climate change, and the effects of the work-from-home phenomenon and online retail.
This presentation will look at what services municipalities deliver and how they pay for them and evaluate how the challenges they face will affect municipal expenditures and revenues in the future. It will conclude with some suggestions for what needs to be done to ensure their fiscal sustainability, including clarifying the roles and responsibilities of each order of government and finding new revenue sources at the municipal level.
Download the slides in PDF format: TABE Webinar – Are Canadian Municipalities Fiscally Sustainable
Dr. Enid Slack is the Director of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG) at the School of Cities at the University of Toronto. IMFG focuses on the fiscal health and governance challenges facing cities and city-regions in Canada and around the world. Enid has been working on municipal finance and governance issues for 40 years and consults with governments and international agencies such as the World Bank, IMF, UN Habitat, Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the International Growth Centre (at Oxford and LSE). Enid has written several books and articles on property taxes, intergovernmental transfers, municipal infrastructure finance, and metropolitan governance. Recent co-edited books include Funding the Canadian City and Is Your City Healthy? Measuring Urban Fiscal Health. In 2012, Enid was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work on cities.
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