December 17, 2021- At their recent meeting, Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) voted unanimously in opposition to Quebec’s Bill 21, the law that bans public sector workers from wearing religious symbols. In a motion brought forward by Mayor Guthrie, OBCM condemned the bill for its infringement on religious freedoms guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The caucus called on all Members of the Parliament to support the challenge of Bill 21 at the Supreme Court.
“Quebec’s Bill 21 is blatantly discriminatory and must be repealed, thank you to Mayor Brown for his leadership in standing up against this” said Jeff Lehman, Chair of OBCM and Mayor of Barrie. “Our caucus will always stand united in protecting the fundamental rights of all Canadians”.
Continued Action on Housing
Ontario’s Big City Mayors look forward to the rescheduled Provincial-Municipal Housing Summit on January 19, 2022. Affordable housing is one of the greatest challenges facing Ontario municipalities today. A successful summit would result in an action plan, that would deliver housing solutions in time to make a difference.
OBCM highlights key principles that each level of government must commit to, specifically stressing the importance of a multilateral, unified intergovernmental approach in 2022 that’s target-based and data-driven. This approach includes economic levers along with process and planning policy levers, supportive housing to address homelessness, respecting that growth must pay for growth and local implementation of housing solutions. OBCM will continue to work collaboratively with provincial, federal and sector partners on meaningful solutions to address the housing affordability crisis.
OBCM supports the pan-provincial approach to protecting Ontarians from the Omicron variant. As seen throughout the pandemic, a regional, patchwork approach will simply not be effective in countering the new variant. We encourage the province to maintain a standard approach across the province to enhance effectiveness and consistency.
OBCM Mayors are working closely with their public health departments to support access to testing, vaccinations and to encourage people to celebrate the holidays in a safe way that protects our health care system.
MOVED by Mayor Guthrie (Guelph)
Seconded by Mayor Brown (Brampton)
That OBCM stand in solidarity recognizing that Bill 21 is discriminatory and does not uphold equality of all citizens, regardless of their religious affiliation, as protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
And that OBCM asks the Parliament of Canada, (both government and opposition), to support the challenge of Bill 21 at the Supreme Court.
MOVED by Mayor Lehman (Barrie)
Seconded by Mayor Meed Ward (Burlington)
That OBCM urges the Government of Ontario to take consistent action across the entire province to combat the spread of the Omicron variant, as we have seen in these past months that a regional approach is not effective.
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 Jeff Lehman, Chair