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Ontario’s Big City Mayors Meet with Minister Calandra and Pass Resolutions on Federal Funding for Additional Shelter Space and Provincial Support for Regional Innovation Centres

Dec 15, 2023Housing, Infrastructure, Mental Health and Addictions, Top Stories

December 15, 2023

Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) met today to discuss key issues facing Ontario’s largest cities and were joined by Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the Honourable Paul Calandra.

The Mayors discussed OBCM’s key priorities including housing policies, the mental health and homelessness crisis and a new municipal-provincial fiscal framework with Minister Calandra. Ontario’s Big City Mayors reaffirmed their commitment to meeting their housing goals in partnership with the province. They also asked the Minister to confirm the province’s plan for making municipalities financially whole and addressing other impacts of the More Homes Built Faster Act, a key OBCM ask since the introduction of the legislation last year. 

OBCM’s recent request for possible changes to the eligibility requirements for the Building Faster Fund was also discussed. The funding uses housing starts to measure housing progress which municipalities do not control. OBCM has asked the Minister to consider using another method to measure municipal progress in order to receive this much needed funding. The Minister committed to working with the municipal sector on how we can deliver the housing-enabling infrastructure required to build more homes. We look forward to continuing this collaborative relationship with Minister Calandra as we work to address the key issues impacting Ontario’s biggest cities. 

At the meeting the Mayors also passed two motions on current issues impacting all member municipalities. These motions (see Appendix A) are requesting that the province continue funding Regional Innovation Centres across Ontario and support the City of Toronto’s request that the federal government provide funding and support the opening of federal spaces for those who need shelter including homeless, refugee and asylum claimant populations.  


“Today’s meeting was an important one, as we were able to focus on the critical issues facing all of Ontario’s biggest cities including housing and the mental health and homelessness crisis in our communities. I was pleased that our members unanimously passed two motions focusing on much needed funding for Regional Innovation Centres in our communities as well as a request to the federal government for funding and support for additional shelter spaces.”

  • Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of City of Burlington and Chair of OBCM

“We were happy to welcome Minister Calandra today and have the opportunity to update him on OBCM’s key priorities. We look forward to continuing these productive conversations on our shared goals including getting more homes built, and how we can do it together with the proper provincial funding and programs in place for municipalities.”

  • Josh Morgan, Mayor City of London and Vice-Chair of OBCM


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 percent of Ontario’s population. OBCM advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities.

Media Contacts

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Chair               Michelle Baker, Executive Director                                         

905-335-7777                                                      647-308-6602


Appendix A

Motion on Support for Regional Innovation Centre Funding

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward (Chair) – Burlington

Whereas there are 17 Regional Innovation Centres located across Ontario in 15 of OBCM member municipalities; and

Whereas Regional Innovation Centres (RICs) contribute to Ontario’s economic development by supporting local startups and entrepreneurs to create high-quality jobs in well-paying sectors; and

Whereas RICs support critical businesses throughout the province, such as advanced manufacturing, agri-tech, information technologies, digital media, and life sciences; and

Whereas the economic development generated and supported by RICs promote sustainable, thriving and complete communities throughout the province; and

Whereas RICs are in the process of renewing funding agreements with the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade – agreements which have been frozen for the past 13 years.

Therefore be it resolved that Ontario Big City Mayors request that the Province continue to fund RICs and increase annual amounts in line with inflation and population growth.

And further that a copy of this resolution be sent to:

  • Honourable Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade
  • MPP Effie J. Triantafilopoulos, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
  • MPP Andrew Dowie, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
  • Stephen Rhodes, Deputy Minister for Economic Development, Job Creation & Trade
  • Anne Bermonte, Assistant Deputy Minister, Innovation and Economic Partnerships Division, Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade 


Motion to Support the City of Toronto’s Request to the Federal Government for Assistance with Shelter Space

Mayor Cam Guthrie (Past-Chair) – Guelph

Whereas cities across Ontario are dealing with an affordability crisis that is impacting housing supports and shelter access while dealing with an unprecedented increase in refugee and asylum claimants along with a homelessness crisis, municipal services are not equipped to handle and;

Whereas Ontario municipalities have been working together for months with other orders of government, local agencies, and community partners to co-ordinate initial supports, expanding services when there has been an influx through emergency shelter systems and other wraparound supports and;

Whereas Ontario’s Big City Mayors have previously requested that the federal government increase funding and programs to address the systemic capacity issues municipalities across Ontario are facing.

Therefore if be resolved that Ontario’s Big City Mayors support Toronto City Council’s request that:

  •  the federal government take urgent action to address the shelter crisis including funding and operationalizing emergency accommodation at federal sites, including federal armouries, and funding and operationalizing a regional refugee reception centre
  •  the federal government ensures that the funding through the Interim Housing Assistance Program (IHAP) is allocated based on the number of refugee and asylum claimants requiring support in each municipality or region
  •  the federal government increases the Canada-Ontario Housing Benefit allocations across Ontario, including matching recent provincial and municipal program increases with $6.67 million in funding for 2023.

And that OBCM requests that the federal government also address the homelessness crisis by funding and operationalizing emergency accommodations at federal sites, including where feasible at federal armouries in municipalities across the province.

And further that a copy of this resolution be sent to:

  •     Honourable Marc Miller – Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship
  •     Honourable Harjit S. Sajjan – Minister of Emergency Preparedness
  •     Honourable Bill Blair – Minister of National Defence
  •     Honourable Sean Fraser – Minister of Housing, Infrastructure and Communities of Canada
  •     Honourable Doug Ford – Premier of Ontario
  •     Honourable Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
  •     Honourable Paul Calandra – Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
  •     Regional Chair, Karen Redman, Chair of the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO)
  •     Councillor Colin Best, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO)
  • Mayor Scott Pearce, President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)

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