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Continuation of Safe Restart pact 'essential' for municipalities: Lehman

Ontario's Big City Mayors caucus to meet with premier and provincial ministers next week to address housing affordability, collaboration
2020-11-13 Mayor Jeff Lehman crop
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman is chair of Ontario's Big City Mayors. Photo supplied

Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) met last week to discuss the pressing issues facing municipalities, including building more affordable housing, COVID-19 recovery, child care and climate change.

The meeting was hosted by Mississauga Mayor Bonnie Crombie.

At the meeting, OBCM set forward a motion that called on the provincial and federal government to provide continued support to municipalities throughout the 2022 fiscal year to help recover from the impacts of COVID-19. The caucus urged for the continuation of the Safe Restart Agreement. Municipalities have been at the forefront of supporting local communities throughout the pandemic and the Safe Restart Agreement is essential to maintaining municipal services and preventing unnecessary tax hikes.

OBCM was delighted to have Ontario’s minister of finance, Peter Bethlenfalvy, join the meeting to discuss the province’s fiscal priorities. Minister Bethlenfalvy discussed Ontario’s plan to implement the initiatives in the Fall Economic Statement, including temporarily removing the unfair PILT formula cap for municipalities with airport lands that, if not changed, would have led to hundreds of millions of dollars in losses for these communities. He also committed to working with the federal government to ensure cities continue to be supported to address COVID-19 related pressures.

“Municipal services are the key to strong and stable economic growth; it is essential that municipalities across Ontario continue to receive federal and provincial funding in 2022,” said Jeff Lehman, chair of OBCM and mayor of Barrie. “OBCM is eager to continue to work closely with the province to ensure our local communities remain supported.”

The caucus also discussed preparation for the upcoming housing summits. OBCM looks forward to meetings with Ahmed Hussen, minister of housing and diversity and inclusion, on Dec. 15, and with Premier Doug Ford and Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing, on Dec. 16, to address housing affordability and identify further opportunities for collaboration.

OBCM continued to encourage the province and federal government to sign an agreement on $10-a-day child care to help kick-start economic recovery and reduce financial burdens for Ontario families.