Big city mayors discuss finance shortfalls, housing crisis, mental health

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) met last week to discuss what they say are the most pressing challenges facing large cities.

Issues include the national homelessness and mental health crises and the need for a modern municipal growth framework in the face of a growing population.

The FCM’s Annual Conference & Trade Show is Canada’s largest annual cross-country gathering of municipal elected officials and mayors met ahead of the event in Toronto.

“The mayors of Canada’s largest cities have been crystal clear,” said mayor of Halifax and chair of the BCMC, Mike Savage. “Large urban centers are where our nation’s most pressing challenges are seen and felt first, and while cities are leaders in addressing these challenges, the reality is that municipalities across the country are constrained by a fiscal framework that is not designed to empower local governments to drive local solutions at the scale needed in 2023 and beyond.”

Canada’s mental health crisis has been worsened by a housing and homelessness challenge that was made more fragile by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the caucus stated. While cities are presenting innovative solutions to the question of housing supply, public transit safety and more, BCMC members say real cooperation between all levels of government is needed.

“We have consistently heard from the federal government that they wish to be partners in tackling critical issues such as housing and homelessness, and we look forward to municipalities being a part of a national strategy on how we can prepare for Canada’s future growth in a way that prioritizes safety, predictability, and the highest possible quality of life for all Canadians,” Savage said.

The mayor of Halifax was re-elected as caucus chair for another term of three years, and mayors Valérie Plante of Montreal and Charlie Clark of Saskatoon re-elected as vice-chairs of the caucus.

“I am honoured to be re-elected as chair of FCM’s Big City Mayors’ Caucus,” Savage said. “This caucus represents 23 big city governments that have critical responsibilities to millions of Canadians.

“The challenges facing Canada’s largest cities are very real, but so are the opportunities. Working together, we can ensure Canada’s cities remain the engines of our national economy and places that families and workers remain proud to call home.”


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