Quebec municipalities will keep focus on climate change as federal election nears
Umbrella group for local governments releases key proposals ahead of campaign
The umbrella group representing Quebec's municipal governments says it will make sure climate change is a central focus as the 2019 Canadian federal election draws near.
The Quebec union of municipalities — known by its French acronym UMQ — is holding its annual meeting in Quebec City, and climate change was a priority on Saturday in speeches and in a list of key proposals for the federal campaign.
"We want to talk about climate change a lot during the federal election campaign," said the UMQ's president, Drummondville mayor Alexandre Cusson. "It's important — there are huge needs in the municipalities."
The UMQ says around $4 billion is needed over five years for Quebec municipalities to adapt to climate change.
Sustainable economic development and respect for municipal autonomy also figure in the UMQ's list of proposals.
The proposals as a whole ask political parties to make "clear commitments to efficiency," the UMQ's president, Drummondville mayor Alexandre Cusson, said in a statement.
"Efficiency means being able to talk to each other directly: from government to government," Cusson said. "The government of Canada has the means. Municipalities have the solutions."
Cusson said dealing with the impact of climate change must necessarily involve local governments.
François-Philippe Champagne, the federal Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, who attended the annual meeting, said programs to help municipalities prepare make sense.
"It's better to invest in adaptation, resilience to climate change rather than having to pay to repair the damage from year to year," he said.
Highlights of the UMQ's proposals include:
- A federal strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that includes a significant role for local governments.
- Reduced time to issue work visas for skilled workers, better harmonization of Quebec and Canadian immigration systems and tax measures to encourage skilled workers to remain in the labour market.
- Faster deployment of high-speed Internet and cellular networks throughout Quebec.
- Significant federal investments in rail and air transport infrastructure.
- Significant federal investments in public transportation including operating costs.
- Respect for municipal powers for planning around land, lakes, rivers, and environmental protection.
- Sharing revenues from the legalization of cannabis with local governments.
The UMQ says it will push Canada's federal parties to define their positions on the proposals and to clarify their visions for federal-municipal partnerships.
"Over the next few months, I encourage each mayor to call on candidates in their respective regions across Quebec so that they can express their views on the priority issues of local governments," Cusson said.
The UMQ was established in 1919 and brings together members of local governments of all sizes from across Quebec. Its members represent around 85 per cent of the province's citizens.
With files from Radio-Canada