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Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is slated to deliver the federal budget on March 22. (Chris Wattie/Reuters/Chris Wattie/Reuters)
Finance Minister Jim Flaherty is slated to deliver the federal budget on March 22. (Chris Wattie/Reuters/Chris Wattie/Reuters)

Canada's big-city mayors are wondering: After the stimulus, what's next? Add to ...

Our crumbling roads and bridges are a top priority for Winnipeggers. We're facing a current $3.8-billion infrastructure deficit, and over the next 10 years another $3.4-billion. Our recreational facilities are falling apart, our community centres, swimming pools and skating rinks. They were built 40 years ago and were not properly maintained. It's embarrassing. But we don't have any real say. When they came up with the gas tax, the money was going to flow through the province and they were going to take a service charge off the top. We yelled and screamed for the money to come directly to us. In the end, it flowed through the provinces with no service charge. So you can see how these shake out. Laying blame is a silly thing. But we're facing a problem and we need to find a solution at all levels of government. Municipalities cannot do it on their own.

Gérald Tremblay, Montreal

I am concerned about the Canada-infrastructure program and hope the federal budget includes permanent funding after 2014. The most important issues are reducing traffic gridlock, addressing gaps in public transport networks and repairing our housing network. In order to succeed, we need clear objectives, long-term funding strategies and co-ordinated policies and programs among our three levels of government.

Dennis O'Keefe, St. John's

Part of the GST, maybe 1 per cent, devoted to cities would dramatically change our ability to finance the work that needs to be done. The worst thing they could do in this budget is not address the looming infrastructure deficit and not put in place a permanent program that would enable cities and towns to realistically deal with the decaying situation of roads and bridges and water systems and sidewalks. How they do it is up to them. This is a problem that is heading down the track like a freight train. The only thing that wouldn't work is not to do anything. Trust me, the money would not go astray. It would be put to work immediately and it would create all kinds of employment, too.

Peter Kelly, Halifax

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month, and a very strong element of acknowledgement from the federal government would be a volunteer tax credit. Almost 12.5 million Canadians over the age of 15 volunteer and collectively contribute over 2.1 billion hours, the equivalent of 1.1 million full-time jobs. The tax credit would allow individuals non-cash tax deductions for personal time volunteered. We'd also like an electricity and heating exemption from the HST. That's an issue in this country as we're just going through our winter months and reviewing the cost of our heating bills, I'm sure people have felt those increases. But what would be really appreciated would be a minister responsible for municipal relations. That would acknowledge municipalities as another level of government, because we are not acknowledged under the constitution. Surely there's room in this day and age for a ministerial process responsible for that relationship.

These interviews have been edited and condensed.

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