OTTAWA — Federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh says he thinks the federal gas tax fund that provides cities with cash for infrastructure projects should be doubled to stimulate local economic recoveries.
Singh made the proposal, which had the feel of a campaign pledge, during a meeting Feb. 12 with the mayors of Canada’s biggest cities.
The gas tax fund is one of the few mechanisms the federal government has to send money directly to cities instead of having to move it through provinces, but the money can only be used on capital projects, not to supplement operating budgets.
This year, the total funding was worth $2.2 billion.
Singh says the funding should be doubled for the next four years.
In a release, the NDP leader says the pandemic has been hard on cities and the federal government should give municipalities tools to quickly get back on their fiscal feet.
Doubling the gas tax fund isn’t new.
The Liberals doubled funding in 2019 to $4.4 billion as an end-run around provinces the government argued were holding up project approvals and slowing the oft-criticized flow of federal construction dollars.
As the pandemic ate into municipal budgets last year, the Liberals decided to move gas tax funds in one shot in June so the cash would hit local coffers faster.
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