Prime Minister Justin Trudeau delivers a virtual keynote address at the annual conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). He also takes questions from FCM members following his speech. Mayors, councillors and municipal representatives from across Canada are gathering virtually from May 31 to June 4. It is the first full gathering of Canadian municipal leaders since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As every order of government in Canada remains hard at work keeping communities safe during the global pandemic, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Big City Mayors’ Caucus met today at the outset of FCM’s 2021 Annual Conference to discuss how cities can help lead a national recovery.
“The Caucus was pleased to be meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland, where the conversation focused on maximizing the recovery value of new investments in housing. Housing affordability is an important challenge Canadians are facing right now. All orders of government need to work together to help our front-line workers, care workers, nurses and other low- and moderate-income Canadians find affordable housing options, including affordable rental. The recent federal commitments to create new permanent housing for vulnerable Canadians through the new Rapid Housing Initiative were important first steps. We welcomed these investments, along with additional emergency supports through the Reaching Home homelessness program. Cities are ready to put this new funding to work now.
“With the right tools, cities are recovery drivers and nation builders. Our continuing collaboration with the federal government over the past year has yielded tangible results for Canadians across the country. Operating budget support through the Safe Restart Agreement has helped cities manage acute threats to the frontline services our residents rely on.
“New public transit investments make transit expansion a national recovery centrepiece—and as of now, a permanently funded federal objective as well. And doubling the Gas Tax Fund transfer for a year directly empowers municipalities to deliver more job-creating, life-enhancing infrastructure projects for recovery.
“The Caucus will also meet today with Ehren Cory, CEO of the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB). With the economic recovery in mind, we will be looking at innovative ways to leverage CIB investment to support major job-creating, city-building infrastructure projects, such as low-to-zero emissions transit buses.
“Since day one, cities have been central partners in Canada’s pandemic response, and local leaders have stepped up like never before to keep people safe and healthy. However, the battle against COVID-19 is not yet won, and our priority remains helping Canadians go through this pandemic. As a caucus, we came together today to show support for the This Is Our Shot movement, which aims to rally Canadians and encourage them to replace vaccine hesitancy with confidence to bring this pandemic to an end – together. And while we continue to work on the daily challenges brought about by this crisis, we are ready to play a crucial role in our next collective challenge: getting our country’s economy back on track.”
“Finally, the Caucus discussed the terrible news of the remains of 215 children discovered in Tk’emlups te Secwépemc First Nation at the former site of the Kamloops Indian Residential School and committed to further action as municipal leaders to pursue the goals of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. The Caucus also condemned the recent rise in acts of hatred, including antisemitic, Islamophobic, and anti-Asian activity. The Caucus remains committed to anti-racism, equity and inclusion and to ongoing discussions about coordinated action on ending acts of hatred in Canada.
“With today marking my final meeting as Chair of FCM’s Big City Mayor’s Caucus before a new Chair is named, I want to thank the past and present members of the Caucus for their persistent and optimistic advocacy on behalf of Canada’s biggest cities. I know this Caucus will continue to drive important progress for the Canadians we serve.”