June 17, 2022
Ontario’s Big City Mayors Call for Emergency Meeting with Province to Address the Chronic Homelessness, Mental Health, Safety and Addictions Crisis Overwhelming Our Communities
Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) met today to call for an emergency joint meeting with the province to accelerate solutions to address chronic homelessness, mental health, safety, and addictions issues in our communities. While all Ontarians have felt the brunt of the pandemic, our most marginalized and vulnerable populations have been disproportionately impacted.
There is a clear lack of support for those in need of urgent shelter and healthcare, and municipal governments cannot continue to step in on this crisis when we are not structurally or financially set up to do so. These issues are the sole jurisdiction of the provincial government. As a result, the impacts are not only felt by our most vulnerable citizens, but also in our downtown cores where our communities’ businesses and families are suffering the economic impact. Public spaces that were once booming with tourism and economic opportunities have turned into places of job loss, businesses closures and immense stress for the small to medium sized businesses trying to rebuild after two years of Covid lockdowns.
“We are at a breaking point. The solutions to this crisis are already known by the province. The Big City Mayors have joined a chorus of others for years on these solutions to be funded and implemented. We are the voice for the most vulnerable in our communities. They are not just falling through the cracks in our healthcare and housing systems, but many are now dying at an alarming rate.” Said Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie, Chair of Ontario Big City Mayors. “This is unacceptable in the Province of Ontario and must be addressed immediately.”
OBCM shares the Ontario BIA Association framework on the current challenges and effects of social issues and housing, including the lack of a balanced housing stock that deteriorates the community ecosystem.
“The impact to BIA communities throughout the pandemic has been unprecedented” said Kay Matthews, Ontario BIA Association Executive Director. “Small Businesses and the main streets that foster them are the backbone of Ontario’s economy, current socio-economic issues are detrimentally impacting the main street economy. Through collaboration with Ontario’s Big City Mayors, we can collectively raise the alarm on the need for a more robust social support system.”
It is critical that the province comes together collaboratively with the municipal sector and other key stakeholders including the Canadian Mental Health Association, AMO, MARCO, law enforcement and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association with an immediate desire to solve the crisis.
Our communities’ businesses are Ontario’s innovators, entrepreneurs, and creators, they are often the ‘heart’ of our communities, representing heritage, economy, arts, revitalization, and tourism. Without these businesses, we cannot rebuild Ontario as we recover from the pandemic. Helping our most vulnerable will make for a stronger, more vibrant Ontario. We look forward to the province joining us in our urgent call for action.
About Ontario’s Big City Mayors
Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM), formerly known as the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, includes mayors of 29 single and lower-tier cities with a population of 100,000 or more, who collectively represent nearly 70 per cent of Ontario’s population. OBCM advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities
|Mayor Cam Guthrie, Chair
519-829-6430Michelle Baker, Executive Director
Andrew Teliszewsky, Chief of Staff
Tony Lavarone, Director of Communications
Emily Houdi- Chief of Staff
Alia Khan, Communications and Media Relations Advisor
John Bkila, Media and Digital Communications Specialist, Mayor’s Office
David Pickles, Deputy Mayor
Nathan Smith, Director Communications
Christie McLardie, Manager Public & Strategic Affairs
|Frank Scarpitti, Mayor
905.475.4872Walter Sendzik, Mayor
905-688-5601 x 1540
Mark Orton, Chief of Staff
Paul Grivicic, Chief of Staff
Jeff Lehman, Mayor
Amy Wilcox, Manager, Corporate Initiatives
Gary Collins, Director of Communications