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Municipal Finance and COVID-19 in Canada: What Comes Next?

October 14, 2020 @ 4:30 pm - 5:30 pm

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on municipal finance in Canada. Across the country, increased expenditures and decreased revenues have resulted in large municipal deficits that, under provincial legislation, would need to be balanced in 2021 budgets. Municipalities with transit systems have been particularly hard hit by substantial drops in fare revenues.

The recent announcement of federal and provincial funding for municipalities and transit providers will help address the short-term budget gaps. However, municipalities are predicting continued budget pressures in 2021, particularly if a second wave occurs and the economic recovery progresses slowly.

This panel examined the continued impact of COVID-19 on municipal finance. How are municipalities preparing for their 2021 budgets? What impacts are they anticipating from COVID-19? What steps are needed at the municipal, provincial, and federal levels to safeguard the fiscal health of municipalities?

This was the first of two IMFG panels exploring the effects of COVID-19 on municipal finance. Details of the second panel are available here.

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Kala Harris is the Executive Director of the Government Finance Officers Association of British Columbia (GFOABC). Kala oversees a membership of over a 1,000 local government members representing 160 municipalities and 28 regional districts across the province. The Association’s work focuses on the support, education and development of local government finance professionals. Prior to joining the Government Finance Officers Association, Kala worked at Simon Fraser University in the Human Security Research Project, housed in the School for International Studies, before joining the Centre for Dialogue.

Donna Herridge is the Executive Director of the Municipal Finance Officers’ Association of Ontario (MFOA). She is a CPA CA with 25 years of municipal finance experience. During her career, her focus has been on “predicting the future” with an emphasis on financial forecasting and asset management. She managed MFOA’s “AMP It Up” Pilot Project and has obtained a professional certificate in asset management planning from the Institute of Public Works Engineering Australasia (IPWEA). Donna is a past President and Board member of MFOA and currently sits on Government Finance Officers Association’s Committee on Canadian Issues.

Bill Hughes is a Senior Fellow at the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance and the chair of the ONE Joint Investment Board. Before joining the Institute, Bill was the Commissioner of Finance and Treasurer for the Regional Municipality of York. Bill also held senior positions in the Ontario government, mainly at the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Infrastructure. Most recently, he was the Assistant Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Policy and Planning. He is a lecturer at the University of Toronto’s Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy, where he co-teaches a course on policy development.

John Merkley is founder of Pacify Analytics and a policy analyst specializing in local government finance in British Columbia, with clients including the region of Metro Vancouver, the City of Vancouver, and TransLink (Metro Vancouver’s transportation authority). He is trained in public finance and economics, and loves engaging with people to advance social and environmental solutions for cities. Prior to founding Pacify Analytics, John worked for 10 years with consulting and private equity firms. In 2017, John was recognized in BC Business’s “30 Under 30” for his work on regional economic policy.


Enid Slack is the Director of the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance (IMFG). She has written extensively on property taxes, intergovernmental transfers, development charges, financing municipal infrastructure, municipal governance, and municipal boundary restructuring. Enid has also chaired or been a member of numerous panels and commissions, including the Who Does What Panel in Ontario and the City of Vancouver’s Property Tax Policy Review Commission. In 2012, she was awarded the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for her work on cities.


October 14, 2020
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm


Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance