The Federation of Canadian Municipalities will be reaching out directly to the County of St. Paul to discuss their concerns after the County voted to quit the national lobby group last week.
In an e-mailed statement, a spokesperson for FCM said, “we know that communities like the County of St. Paul have been hit hard during this pandemic, and that local leaders are on the front lines of this challenge.”
“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, FCM and municipal leaders from across the country have been working flat-out to keep Canadians safe and protect our local businesses. FCM and its members have worked hard for months advocating for the support municipalities received through the Safe Restart Agreement, and these funds were crucial in helping municipalities of all sizes keep essential services running strong for their residents.”
According to the Government of Canada, $2 billion of the $19 billion Safe Restart Agreement is earmarked for municipalities to “minimize the spread of COVID-19 and manage public spaces and critical services, like public transit.”
According to County of St. Paul CAO Sheila Kitz, the County did receive $659,943 through the Municipal Operating Support Transfer, which is a provincially managed program funded through the Safe Restart Agreement.
Kitz said the County of St. Paul is able to use that money to pay for things like personal protective equipment and increased cleaning supplies, as well as to replace some revenues lost due to COVID-19.
In their statement, FCM said the organization works to raise the voice of communities of all sizes and “is deeply committed to making sure municipal issues from every region in Canada are reflected in our work.”
“FCM and its rural and western membership advocated for investments in municipal infrastructure and transportation, collaborated to secure gains for rural Canadians on important issues such as rural broadband, and created the Western Economic Solutions Taskforce (WEST) to drive solutions to support struggling communities affected by economic uncertainty and bring western municipal voices to Ottawa.”
County of St. Paul Council approved motions to write letters of support for both MCSNet and Xplornet Communications for their applications to the Universal Broadband Fund, which is funded by the federal government and intended to support high-speed Internet access in rural and remote communities.
Both companies provide internet services in the County of St. Paul and have plans to expand and upgrade their existing fibre and wireless networks.