November 2, 2023
Burlington, ON – Today the province released their 2023 Fall Economic Statement. Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) were pleased to see the creation of new programs that address support for much needed municipal infrastructure that will enable the building of new homes.
The newly announced Housing-Enabling Water Systems Fund for the repair, rehabilitation and expansion of municipal water and wastewater infrastructure is a good start with an initial $200 million investment, but municipalities across the province need more to service and expand these systems. Ontario’s Big City Mayors support the province in calling on the federal government to work in partnership with them to fund these much needed projects.
OBCM looks forward to learning more about the new Ontario Infrastructure Bank (OIB) and thanks the government for the initial $3 billion in funding. The OIB will support investments in the critical large-scale infrastructure municipalities need to create thriving, complete communities for their residents.
Ontario’s Big City Mayors appreciate that the province echoed our call on the federal government to act urgently and provide a more robust set of supports to combat the rise in auto thefts in our communities, including more funding to the Canadian Border Service Agency to increase inspections of shipping containers at all major Canadian ports.
We were also pleased to hear the announcements earlier this week extending gas tax cuts until June 2024 and creating the new Residential Rental Property Rebate that will remove the provincial portion of the HST on qualifying purpose built rentals. These programs help to keep money in the pockets of all Ontario residents, and support the building of more affordable rental units across the province.
We note that the statement today did not provide an update on the government’s commitment to make municipalities financially whole when it comes to the impacts of Bill 23. We are already discussing the impacts to our residents as Ontario’s largest cities enter into their 2024 budget processes. We look forward to continuing conversations to ensure that the government meets this commitment to our caucus members.
We will also continue to advocate for better measures to allow municipalities to qualify for the Building Faster Fund. Municipalities do not control housing starts, and using that metric will leave most of our members unable to qualify for funding to build the very infrastructure we all need to deliver on our pledges. We are ready to work with the government to develop appropriate measurements, identify barriers and find solutions to housing delays.
Finally, we are grateful for the increased funding announced in the 2023 Budget to support homelessness prevention as well as mental health and addictions programs, however we recognize there is more work to do and more funding required to meet this challenge. We need to continue conversations with all levels of government on the increases in homelessness that we continue to see in our communities as well as supports for the rising number of refugees and asylum claimants.
“Ontario’s Big City Mayors were pleased to see the province’s commitment to funding critical infrastructure for municipalities, including electrical, transit and water systems as well as the creation of the Ontario Infrastructure Bank to support large scale projects,” said Marianne Meed Ward, Mayor of Burlington and Chair of OBCM. “We will continue to work with the government to press for funding needed to make us whole and better metrics to qualify for the building faster fund.”
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