15 June 2008

Support for One Cent Campaign

In my June 8th post, I expressed disappointment in a Liberal "urban caucus committee" report which failed to recommend - even mention - the resolution by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities that municipalities receive one cent of the GST.*

A supportive editorial in today's Star acknowledges that "giving cities one percentage point of the GST would constitute a revolutionary change in federal-municipal relations."

The paper is right, and it's a change urgently needed.

Life, work, and play happen in communities.

Poverty, unemployment, widespread deteriorating health, failing infrastructure, plant closures, resource depletion, food and water scarcity, are all felt first in communities - and it's in communities where solutions have the most immediate effect. The people in communities, including local government leaders, are also the best positioned to identify the right solutions for their communities.

Municipalities shouldn't be placed in the position of beggars. A more equitable distribution of power, between top-level governments and citizens, is essential for communities to be revitalized, for sustainable local economies to develop and flourish, and to improve citizen engagement.

Indeed, I'd take the One Cent campaign one step further and urge municipal leaders to lobby their provincial governments for one cent of the provincial sales tax; and I'd encourage poverty groups to get fully behind both efforts.

*For example, an item purchased for $5.00 would have 25 cents in GST added to it (at the current rate of 5% GST). Under the One Cent proposal, five cents of the 25 cents collected would be returned to municipalities - one cent for each dollar.

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