Speaking to the Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association’s (SUMA) Annual Conference in Regina, Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) President Claude Dauphin today called for a firm commitment by the federal government in Budget 2014 to work with other orders of government to address Canada’s housing crunch.
“We need a partnership to address Canada’s housing crunch, which is the most urgent financial issue facing Canadians today, and we cannot afford to wait any longer,” Mr. Dauphin told delegates to the conference. “When we work together, as we have with our successful and ongoing partnership on rail safety, we can achieve real, positive change.”
Canada’s housing crunch is a problem that local leaders know all too well. In Saskatchewan, $120 million in federal subsidies for affordable housing are set to expire and the future of one third of affordable housing units in the province at risk. Communities across the country are facing similar challenges, which is why FCM is calling on the federal government to commit in Budget 2014 to developing a plan that involves all orders of government and puts investments in housing on a sustainable and long-term track.
FCM’s President once again called on the federal government to follow through on its commitment to ensure the new $14 billion Building Canada Fund is up and running, so projects can be approved and construction work can begin, by the 2014 construction season.
“Local governments must act quickly to repair rapidly crumbling roads, sewers and bridges and it is essential that the program be designed right in order to meet the needs of small and large communities alike,” Dauphin added.
The FCM president also spoke to delegates about FCM’s successful partnership with the federal government on rail safety. When FCM called for swift and concrete action following the Lac Mégantic tragedy, the federal government responded and significant progress has already been made in areas like emergency planning and response. Now the federal government must take action to address the outstanding issues identified by FCM, such as reducing safety risks related to dangerous goods shipped by rail and to ensuring that emergency response costs are not downloaded to local taxpayers.