LONDON, ON – Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) and the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO) met on Sunday to kick off the AMO Conference in London. The meeting focused on issues impacting Ontario’s biggest cities and regions.
We welcomed the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing the Honourable Minister Steve Clark with Associate Minister of Housing the Honourable Nina Tangri to speak about current provincial housing policies. The discussion focused on our shared housing goal of 1.5 million homes by 2031 and how collaboration with the province and all housing partners in the home building sector is the only way to ensure we reach our target. This message was also the focus of the recently released report by Mike Moffatt’s the PLACE Centre in partnership with OBCM entitled “Working Together to Build 1.5 Million Homes.” (found here)
At the joint meeting, OBCM and MARCO passed several resolutions focused on issues impacting our cities and regions (see Appendix A below). These included motions on:
- Long term Provincial and Federal Support and Planning Assistance for Newcomers – Including Refugees and Asylum Seekers
- The Gender and Intimate Partner Violence Epidemic
- Strengthening Municipal Codes of Conduct in Ontario
Throughout the AMO Conference, OBCM members met with several provincial ministers to discuss our key Ontario-wide priorities along with Ministry specific issues (see Appendix B below for a list of meetings and meeting topics):
- Addressing the mental health, addictions and homelessness crisis municipalities are facing – through our Health and Homelessness Strategy
- Supporting the build of 1.5M new homes in the province – through improvements to our part of the process – building permit approvals and providing the servicing required for new developments or increased density – while working to hold other partners in the home building process accountable for their part in reaching these housing goals
- Municipal finance reform – working with all levels of government to identify the funding municipalities need and develop a new municipal funding framework
Throughout the AMO Conference, the provincial government made several announcements impacting municipalities including the Premier’s announcement of the Building Faster Fund on Monday (see OBCM’s statement on this announcement here).
On Tuesday, Minister Clark announced that his ministry will be introducing changes to the Development Charges Act in the Fall to include a definition of Affordable Housing. This will have a direct impact on the development charge incentives included in Bill 23, and we are pleased that the government’s direction includes incorporating income factors in addition to market factors in its definition. This reflects the work that OBCM has undertaken with our partners at AMO. We will continue to work together and provide input into this process.
OBCM was also pleased to hear the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing announce that the facilitators for regional reviews will be appointed by September 11th, 2023. This is good news for all regions and relevant municipalities, to have a definitive timeline for this process as we head into the 2024 budget season.
OBCM was also pleased to hear on Tuesday Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, the Hon. Sylvia Jones, announced changes to how local public health units will be funded, supported and directed, including reverting back to a 75% provincial and 25% municipal cost sharing ratio. This will help strengthen local public health systems and ensure financial sustainability.
“Advancing our key priorities through discussion and collaboration with our regional and provincial colleagues is the key to helping solve the important issues facing Ontario’s biggest cities. We all have a role to play in finding solutions, and municipalities are committed to doing our part in partnership with other levels of government, industry, and the non-profit sector.”
- Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of Burlington and Chair of OBCM
“Ontario’s largest cities and regions are key ingredients to solving society’s complex challenges. I want to thank colleagues from the provincial government, AMO, MARCO and OBCM for productive dialogue on housing growth and the important issues facing our communities.”
- Karen Redman, Chair of the Region of Waterloo and Chair of MARCO
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.
Mayor Marianne Meed Ward, Chair Michelle Baker, Executive Director
APPENDIX A – List of OBCM/MARCO Motions Passed
Motion on Long term Provincial and Federal Support and Planning Assistance for Newcomers – Including Refugees and Asylum Seekers
August 20, 2023
WHEREAS the Canadian government is failing to fully fund the municipal/regional front line that Canada relies on to welcome and settle newcomers, including those needing urgent support such as refugees and asylum-seekers fleeing conflict in their home countries and;
WHEREAS historically, by working together with other orders of government, local agencies, and community partners to co-ordinate their settlement, municipalities and regions have been able to expand services when there has been an influx through emergency shelter systems and other wraparound supports and;
WHEREAS municipal and regional leaders are operating with a nineteenth century revenue system to respond to twenty-first century responsibilities that include a housing and homelessness crisis, public health and safety issues such as the mental health and addictions crisis, ageing infrastructure, and other traditional responsibilities and;
WHEREAS this most recent influx of refugees has dramatically increased pressure on a system that is already over capacity, and despite best efforts, municipalities and regions can no longer keep up with the demand and;
WHEREAS while we are on the front line of welcoming newcomers to Canada, the federal government has not consulted nor planned with municipalities and regions to ensure these newcomers receive the housing and other supports they need, including for those who have come to Canada to learn. And when these needs cannot be met, it is often vulnerable and marginalized communities that are impacted the most and;
WHEREAS the federal government’s commitment in July to increase interim housing supports is a good start, but it does not solve the systemic capacity issues municipalities across Ontario are facing, nor does it address the current refugee crisis in communities throughout the GTA and beyond.
Therefore, be it resolved that Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) and the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO) is calling for an urgent meeting of all orders of government to discuss immediate action on the capacity issues faced by our municipalities and regions, and to put in place a funding model that addresses the on-going need for emergency housing and other supports as this refugee crisis continues and;
THAT OBCM and MARCO are also calling on the federal government to consult with municipalities, regions, provinces and territories on the process of the setting of immigration targets, including for international students, and on the funding and supports required to ensure people receive the housing and other services they need when they arrive and;
THAT OBCM and MARCO requests that these numbers be announced with enough time to be included in provincial, regional and municipal growth planning.
Motion on Gender-Based and Intimate Partner Violence Epidemic
August 20, 2023
WHEREAS 42 municipalities and regions including OBCM and MARCO members Ajax, Brampton, Burlington, Clarington, Hamilton, London, Oakville, Ottawa, Pickering, Whitby, Toronto and Windsor, along with Peel, Durham and Halton Regions as well as Lanark County, Essex County and Renfrew County across Ontario have declared a gender-based violence and/or intimate partner violence epidemic (as of August 18, 2023) and;
WHEREAS on August 16, 2023 Justice Minister Arif Virani described gender-based violence as “an epidemic” in the federal government’s formal response to a coroner’s inquest, also stating that his government is committed to ending the gender-based violence epidemic “in all its forms, and is working to address any gaps in the Criminal Code to ensure a robust justice system response,” and;
WHEREAS by declaring gender-based violence and intimate partner violence an epidemic, OBCM and MARCO can join the growing number of municipalities and regions in demanding action from all levels of government to address this growing epidemic and;
WHEREAS the incidences of gender-based violence and intimate partner violence increased exponentially throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and has not decreased, while funding to provide the growing demand of services and support for victims and survivors of intimate partner and gender based violence has not kept pace.
THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED THAT OBCM and MARCO declare gender-based violence and intimate partner violence an epidemic, and;
BE IT RESOLVED THAT OBCM and MARCO recommend that gender-based violence and intimate-partner violence be declared an epidemic in the Province of Ontario and;
REQUEST THAT the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM), the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) and all municipalities and regions in Ontario declare a gender-based and intimate partner violence epidemic across the country and;
REQUEST THAT the provincial and federal governments enact the additional 85 recommendations from the inquest into the 2015 murders of Carol Culleton, Anastasia Kuzyk and Nathalie Warmerdam in Renfrew County, Ontario, which provide a roadmap to preventing intimate partner violence from escalating to femicide and;
REQUEST THAT that the Federal government starts this enactment by adding the word Femicide as a term to the Criminal Code of Canada, and;
REQUEST THAT the provincial and federal governments provide the necessary support to municipalities, regions and their emergency and social services to meaningfully address the gender-based violence and intimate-partner violence epidemic.
Motion on Strengthening Municipal Codes of Conduct in Ontario
August 20, 2023
Whereas all Ontarians, including both municipal staff and elected members of council, deserve a safe and respectful workplace free from harassment and bullying; and
Whereas the Municipal Act, 2001, prescribes that municipalities shall have codes of conduct for council and local boards; and
Whereas municipalities and municipal integrity commissioners currently lack the tools to enforce codes of conduct; and
Whereas there are numerous examples of repeated contraventions of codes of conduct, bullying and harassment across the municipal sector; and
Whereas the Government of Ontario has recently consulted and engaged with municipalities across the province on strengthening codes of conduct;
Therefore be it resolved that the Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario (MARCO) and Ontario Big City Mayors (OBCM):
- Reaffirm their past support (and the support of other bodies such as AMO) for strengthening municipal codes of conduct;
- Call on the Government of Ontario to introduce legislation to strengthen codes of conduct for Ontario’s municipalities; and
That the proposed legislation includes administrative penalties, increased training, strengthened tools for integrity commissioners, and the ability for municipalities to apply for judicial removal of sitting members if advised by their integrity commissioner.
APPENDIX B – List of OBCM Delegations and Meeting Topics
- Minister Neil Lumsden – Tourism, Culture and Sport – how OBCM’s Health and Homelessness Strategy will help local tourism industries and business communities
- Parliamentary Assistants MPP Christine Hogarth and MPP Bob Bailey (on behalf of Minister Kerzner) – Solicitor General – bail compliance and safety in our communities
- Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy – Finance – it is time for all levels of government to working together on a new municipal fiscal framework, and requesting more detail on how the province will “keep municipalities whole” from the effects of Bill 23
- Minister Doug Downey – Attorney General – Bail reform, and the need for more Justices of the Peace in our municipalities to tackle the currently backlog in our judicial system
- Minister Khaleed Rasheed – Public and Business Service Delivery – status of consultation on locate provisions through One Call
- Minister Todd Smith – Energy – how municipalities can work the the Ministry’s of Energy and the Environment to meet ou net-zero goals, and the need for municipal engagement on future energy planning to ensure energy requirements for our growing communities are met
- Minister Jill Dunlop – Colleges and Universities -requesting that federal, provincial and municipal governments as well as the higher education sector all be at the table when planning student population increases and how housing needs for these increases will be managed, as well as plans for any new programs to get more young people trained in the skills we need to get more homes built in Ontario
- Parliamentary Assistant MPP Deepak Anandto the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development – the labour shortage and its impact on reaching our shared housing goals, and how all levels of government need to be aware of federal immigration targets with enough time to adapt to new housing needs in our municipalities
- Multi Minister Meeting on Health and Homelessness – Minister Michael Parsa (Children, Community and Social Services), Associate Minister Nina Tangri (Housing), Associate Minister Michael Tibollo (Mental Health), Associate Minister Charmaine Williams (Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity) – a special plenary meeting to discuss a path forward for OBCM’s Health and Homelessness Strategy