Ontario’s big-city mayors urge Province to invest in top urban issues

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By The Canadian press

Ontario’s big-city mayors are urging the provincial government to consider the pressing needs of cities as they craft their 2020 Budget. In anticipation of the Budget, the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario (LUMCO) identified their top priorities as mental health and addiction supports; ensuring growth pays for growth; climate change; gun violence; transportation gridlock; and economic competitiveness.

The mayors of 29 cities welcomed Health Minister Christine Elliott and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Steve Clark to the meeting to discuss the provincial response to the 2019 novel coronavirus, public health and ambulance reforms, affordable and supportive housing, and growth pressures.

“We have always said that we want to be partners with the Province, solving problems together through better, more efficient government,” said Cam Guthrie, Chair of LUMCO and Mayor of Guelph. “I am encouraged that Minister Elliott and Minister Clark attended our meeting today to discuss a range of issues that are top-of-mind for the people we represent.”

A pre-budget consultation submission, which was endorsed by LUMCO members at today’s meeting, urged the provincial government to invest in six key areas:

  • Funding for measures to respond to the growing mental health and addictions crisis in cities, including supportive housing;
  • Ensuring growth pays for growth under the More Homes, More Choices Act and improving housing supply and affordability;
  • Reducing gridlock through continued investments in transit;
  • Creating a green infrastructure fund for municipalities with more than 100,000 people to address the growing costs of climate change, reduce costs for residents, and make cities more sustainable;
  • Continuing efforts with municipalities to reduce red tape and strengthen economic competitiveness; and,
  • Taking actions to tackle gun and gang violence, including better coordination of public safety activities, adequate funding for the Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence initiative, and strict implementation of gun sale laws.

“LUMCO mayors have diverse needs within our individual cities, but we have come together with one voice to urge provincial investment in areas that concern us all. Collectively, we represent 69 per cent of Ontario’s population, and these are the most pressing needs we are seeing on the ground in our cities,” said Guthrie.

The agenda also included a discussion with the Province’s advisor on public health and emergency health modernization, Jim Pine. Ontario is considering reforms to these sectors that could significantly affect local public health and ambulance services in LUMCO cities.

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