October 15, 2020 – Mayors of Ontario’s 29 largest cities met with provincial and federal ministers via videoconference today to press the need for investment in infrastructure and municipal operating funding for 2021, as communities continue to respond and recover from the impacts of COVID-19.
Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) welcomed Canada’s Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, Catherine McKenna, and Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure, Laurie Scott to the meeting, urging both levels of government to fund municipal infrastructure as an immediate measure to stimulate cities’ economic recovery. OBCM later passed a motion stating that funding programs should address critical needs to build growth-related infrastructure and replace aging assets, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and strengthen economic competitiveness.
A second motion called on the Governments of Canada and Ontario to provide additional emergency operating support for municipalities in 2021.
“Cities are well into 2021 budget planning. We are forecasting continued steep revenue losses, especially for services like transit and recreation, as well as property tax revenue impacts due to rising vacancy rates for commercial buildings and office towers,” said Mayor Cam Guthrie, OBCM Chair. “Safe Restart funding was vital to enable municipalities to respond to the pandemic, maintain critical services, and meet our responsibility to balance our budgets. Further funding will be just as important in 2021, when the full impact of the pandemic will be felt.”
Ontario’s Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy also joined the meeting to discuss the Province’s ongoing response to COVID-19 and the growth of online government services during the pandemic.
OBCM also welcomed the Leader of Canada’s New Democratic Party, MP Jagmeet Singh, to discuss cities’ economic and social recovery from COVID-19.
“As we respond to a second wave of COVID-19, Ontario’s Big City Mayors continue to press for financial relief, a plan for economic recovery, and longer-term reform of funding and service delivery,” said Mayor Guthrie. “We appreciate the willingness of the federal and provincial governments to listen to cities and work together to meet the extraordinary challenges we face.”
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.
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Mayor Cam Guthrie, Chair of OBCM