In a substantive meeting this morning, Canada's big-city mayors urged the Prime Minister to use his government's next budget to launch a new era of public transit and to tackle Canada's housing affordability crisis head-on.
"This government clearly appreciates that we can't build livable, globally-competitive cities on top of a housing crisis," said Don Iveson, Mayor of Edmonton and chair of FCM's Big-City Mayors' Caucus (BCMC). "Our discussion with the Prime Minister today focused on the budget - as really a once-in-a-generation opportunity both to expand transit and to fix the housing crisis."
A million and a half Canadian families cannot find decent housing they can afford. One in five renters spends more than half their income on shelter. And vulnerable Canadians are at risk as long-standing federal operating agreements for Canada's 600,000 social housing homes progressively expire. The mayors are urging the federal government to invest $12.6 billion in housing solutions over eight years, directing money already earmarked for the Social Infrastructure Fund.
In budget recommendations submitted on Monday, the mayors laid out a plan to protect existing social housing, build new affordable housing and kick-start rental housing markets. They also outlined the funding mechanisms that will ensure major transit expansions move forward - shortening commutes, easing gridlock, reducing emissions and boosting productivity.
"This government put unprecedented money on the table for transit, green and social infrastructure. And with the right mechanisms in place, cities are ready to turn transit and green investment into big outcomes for Canadians. But now we also need a clear and bold federal decision to put those Social Infrastructure funds into housing," said Iveson.
Today's BCMC agenda also includes a panel discussion with six housing stakeholder organizations from across Canada, as well as discussion on the fentanyl public health crisis. Later, the mayors will review their full Budget 2017 recommendations with senior Infrastructure Canada officials and Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister (Intergovernmental Affairs).
"Canada's big cities are hubs of innovation, and our local solutions drive progress on national challenges. More than ever, city-building is nation-building, and it's heartening to see our Prime Minister share that broad vision," said Iveson.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is the national voice of Canada's local order of government, with nearly 2,000 members representing 91 per cent of the population. Its Big-City Mayors' Caucus brings together 22 of Canada's largest cities.
For more information
Michael FitzPatrick, FCM Media Relations: firstname.lastname@example.org or 613 907 6346