April 21, 2023
Kitchener, ON – Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) held its AGM and Conference in Kitchener over the past few days to discuss key municipal priorities including, housing, mental health and addictions, homelessness, and municipal codes of conduct.
“It was a pleasure to have our caucus together once again in Kitchener. My thanks to Mayor Vrbanovic for hosting us in his beautiful city,” said OBCM Chair Bonnie Crombie. “OBCM remains committed to addressing the pressing issues we’re seeing in our communities. We will continue to collaborate with all our partners across the province to be a strong voice for Ontario cities.”
OBCM was joined by the Hon. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing to discuss ongoing provincial housing legislation and the collaborative approaches needed to build more homes for our communities. Municipalities play a critical role in enabling the build of new housing infrastructure. At the conference, the caucus passed a motion calling on the province to expedite the process to fully unlock the ability of municipalities’ to do their part in solving the housing supply crisis. OBCM looks forward to continuing its work with the Minister Clark to reach 1.5 million homes built over the next 10 years.
OBCM was also joined by the Hon. Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship of Canada to discuss the important role of immigration and skilled labour for housing development. Municipalities are committed to working with the federal government to unlock skilled labour opportunities that will strengthen the housing sector.
Mental Health, Addictions and Homelessness
At the conference, OBCM re-affirmed its commitment to addressing the homelessness, mental health and addictions crisis facing communities across Ontario. Over the past year, OBCM led the call for action to work towards solutions to address homelessness with our Health and Homelessness strategy. OBCM is eager to continue working with Hon. Sylvia Jones, Minister of Health and Hon. Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions to provide support for the most vulnerable residents.
Municipal Codes of Conduct
Everyone deserves a safe and respectful workplace. At the conference OBCM passed a motion to improve municipal codes of conduct to account for workplace safety and harassment. OBCM supports the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) call for the province to introduce legislation to strengthen municipal codes of conduct along with MPP Stephen Blais’ Private Members Bill 5, Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act, 2022.
“Big city mayors are committed to tackling the homelessness, mental health and addictions crisis in ways that best fit our different communities,” said Kitchener Mayor, Berry Vrbanovic. “Kitchener was happy to host the mayors, Minister Clark, Minister Fraser and others Thursday to provide recommendations on issues ranging from OBCM’s Health and Homelessness Strategy to immigration. We know that it will take an all-of-government approach and consistent funding to tackle these complex issues and we look forward to continuing working collaboratively with our government and community partners.”
1) OBCM Motion requesting the Government of Ontario expedite the process to fully unlock a municipality’s ability to do their part to solve the housing supply crisis.
OBCM requests the Ontario government to expedite its finalization of its necessary regulations on governance, finance, planning and building policies to fully unlock municipal ability to do our part to meet the need to solve the housing supply crisis.
2) OBCM Motion on Legislative Amendments to Improve Municipal Codes of Conduct and Enforcement
WHEREAS, all Ontarians deserve and expect a safe and respectful workplace;
AND WHEREAS, municipal governments, as the democratic institutions most directly engaged with Ontarians need respectful discourse;
AND WHEREAS, several incidents in recent years of disrespectful behaviour and workplace harassment have occurred amongst members of municipal councils;
AND WHEREAS, these incidents seriously and negatively affect the people involved and lower public perceptions of local governments;
AND WHEREAS, municipal Codes of Conduct are helpful tools to set expectations of council member behaviour;
AND WHEREAS, municipal governments do not have the necessary tools to adequately enforce compliance with municipal Codes of Conduct;
AND WHEREAS Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) support the efforts of MPP Stephen Blais who has introduced the Private Members Bill 5, Stopping Harassment and Abuse by Local Leaders Act, 2022 which has been endorsed by a number of OBCM member councils;
AND WHEREAS a fundamental, underlying principle of broadening diversity, equity and inclusion in politics rests on the assumption that the workplace is safe;
AND WHEREAS we believe that municipal elected officials should be held to account in this way, we also believe that federal and provincial elected officials should take similar actions to hold themselves to account.
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT:
- OBCM supports the call of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario for the Government of Ontario to introduce legislation to strengthen municipal Codes of Conduct and compliance with them in consultation with municipal governments or in the alternative, OBCM supports the province ordering Bill 5 for second reading to expedite this matter;
- AND THAT legislation encompasses the Association of Municipalities of Ontario’s recommendations for:
- Updating municipal Codes of Conduct to account for workplace safety and harassment;
- Creating a flexible administrative penalty regime, adapted to the local economic and financial circumstances of municipalities across Ontario;
- Increasing training of municipal Integrity Commissioners to enhance consistency of investigations and recommendations across the province;
- Allowing municipalities to apply to a member of the judiciary to remove a sitting member if recommended through the report of a municipal Integrity Commissioner; and
- Prohibit a member so removed from sitting for election in the term of removal and the subsequent term of office.
- AND THAT OBCM requests that municipalities and their respective Integrity Commissioners be consulted on the development of any regulations related to the proposed legislation;
- AND THAT this motion be circulated to the Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada, the Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, the Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice, the Honourable Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Kate Manson-Smith, Deputy Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Scott Pierce, Federation of Canadian Municipalities Acting President, and Colin Best, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
About Ontario’s Big City Mayors
Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) 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 Bonnie Crombie, Chair
|Michelle Baker, Executive Director