21 Jul, 2016

IMFG Perspectives Paper: How can local governments build public trust?

New paper from the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance identifies five key ingredients for building fiscal trust.

Toronto, July 21, 2016 – A new IMFG Perspectives Paper, A Recipe for Fiscal Trust (No. 13), addresses the thorny issue of how municipal governments can build sufficient trust with the public to raise badly needed funds.

The national infrastructure deficit has been estimated at close to $400 billion, and much of it rests at the municipal level. Local governments need to make significant financial investments to address these compelling needs. But before they can raise the funds – through taxes, fees, or other revenue sources – residents must trust that the money is needed and that it will be spent wisely. This paper explores the notion of trust in government, investigates how local governments can build public trust around fiscal issues in particular, and sets out five key ingredients for achieving it.

“Raising taxes is akin to the third rail of Canadian politics, but something has to give if we want clean drinking water, affordable housing, decent public transit, and recreation facilities for young and old,” says Pamela Robinson, one of the report’s authors. “From coast to coast, sooner or later, Canadian politicians in townships, hamlets, villages, and cities are all going to have to ask themselves: how can we convince the public of the real need to generate revenue to fund our infrastructure deficit?”


Dina Graser has been a producer, lawyer, planning activist, and public servant. From 2010 to 2014, she was Director of Community and Stakeholder Relations at Metrolinx. Currently, Dina is Senior Advisor at IMFG, Project Director of the National Housing Collaborative, and a consultant on strategy, policy development, and engagement.

Pamela Robinson is Associate Professor in the School of Urban and Regional Planning, and Associate Dean of Graduate Studies in the Faculty of Community Services at Ryerson University. Her current research examines how open government, open data, and civic technology are transforming urban planning practice in Canadian cities.

For more information, please contact:
Selena Zhang | Manager, Programs and Research
Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, University of Toronto
selena.zhang@utoronto.ca | 416-978-2168