OTTAWA – With a key federal budget on the horizon, big city mayors met today with key Cabinet ministers to discuss cities’ priorities. The mayors are clear: this budget is a critical moment to tool up cities to deliver the recovery Canadians deserve.
“Our federal-municipal partnership has done so much for Canadians throughout this pandemic, and it will be just as key to driving an inclusive, sustainable recovery,” said Mike Savage, Chair of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) and Mayor of Halifax. “As economic engines for this country, cities play key roles in achieving national recovery goals—including creating jobs, tackling the housing crisis and meeting Canada’s climate goals.”
The caucus met today with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, Infrastructure and Communities Dominic Leblanc, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health Carolyn Bennett, and Minister of Housing and Diversity and Inclusion Ahmed Hussen.
With Minister Freeland today, the mayors sounded the alarm on pandemic-induced transit farebox shortfalls. Cities are finalizing their own budgets and they cannot run deficits to cover operating gaps. With no solution for 2022, consequences will range from service reductions that hurt vulnerable Canadians to delays on climate priorities like fleet electrification.
“We are calling red-alert on these pandemic-driven transit shortfalls,” said Mayor Savage “Mayors have been crystal-clear that federal leadership, alongside the provinces, is urgent to hold off service reductions that’ll hurt people. Let’s also be clear: cities need this crisis averted to get into a position to proactively lead the broader, inclusive, sustainable recovery Canadians are counting on.”
To foster that inclusive recovery through Budget 2022, the mayors are also specifically urging bold action on housing and homelessness. As a top priority, they propose scaling up the proven Rapid Housing Initiative, as the cornerstone of the plan to seize this moment and end chronic homelessness. They are also recommending high-impact steps to boost the affordable housing supply—optimizing existing programs to get more housing built faster, as well as acting on the federal commitment to help housing providers acquire existing market rentals to keep them affordable. For a sustainable recovery, the mayors say new Budget 2022 investments in local innovation are key to getting Canada on track to its 2030 emissions goals. FCM is proposing new investment in high-impact areas—including landfill gas capture, community energy generation, and green vehicles and charging infrastructure.
“Cities are key partners in tackling Canada's most urgent challenges, from homelessness to climate change,” said Mayor Savage. “And with smart investment in Budget 2022—and the transit revenue shortfall crisis averted—we’ll be ready to help build that stronger, more inclusive and sustainable country people want on the other side of COVID-19."
The caucus also voiced its solidarity with the residents of the City of Ottawa, where protests against public health measures continue to affect downtown residents and businesses.
“As mayors, we understand very well how a prolonged disturbance like this can impact people and businesses,” said Mayor Savage. “We’ll continue to insist that protests need to respect residents, members of the media and public health—and certainly, that intimidation and hateful symbols have no place it our cities. I want to express my support for Mayor Watson, his city council, and Ottawa residents, and hope the situation there is resolved peacefully and soon.”
Read FCM’s Partners for Canada’s Recovery.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) unites more than 2,000 local governments at the national level, representing more than 90 per cent of Canadians in every province and territory. FCM’s Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) convenes the mayors of 22 major Canadian cities.
For more information: FCM Media Relations, (613) 907-6395, email@example.com