TORONTO (March 23, 2016) – “The 2016 federal budget clearly recognizes and appreciates that we are an urban nation,” said Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction. “The investments announced send a welcome signal that the federal government sees itself as a partner to, not a distant relative of, Canadian cities.”
We applaud the federal government’s commitment to supporting the long-term growth of cities through investments in social housing, transit, green infrastructure, early childhood, and both educational and employment opportunities for youth.
Getting Municipalities and Our Economy Moving
The Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) is steadily pushing towards its projected population of 8.6 million by 2031. The federal government’s dedication of $120 billion for infrastructure over the next 10 years recognizes this and gives residents hope in having more adequate and affordable housing, more options for how they get around, and ways to reduce our environmental impact and protect us from more extreme weather.
With Canadian municipalities owning 60% of the country’s infrastructure, but collecting just eight cents on every tax dollar taken in, we’re happy to see the government’s introduction of a new infrastructure funding model. Covering up to half the cost of public transit, water and wastewater infrastructure projects will help ease cities’ financial pressures. We encourage the federal government to work closely with the province and municipalities who have on-the-ground intelligence to ensure priority projects are identified, funded, and most importantly started.
As we flagged at our 2015 Better City Bootcamp, more affordable housing options and support for seniors is critical as our population ages and health care costs continue to rise. We appreciate the budget’s measures that begin to address seniors and this issue directly. A strengthened federal government role in housing including the development of a National Housing Strategy are positive steps toward ensuring everyone has a safe place to live.
Giving Canadians a Running Start
The 2016 budget shows investments in youth, children and families, recognizing they face many challenges today. Early childhood health and education have a huge impact on each person’s outcomes in life, so we are pleased to see the introduction of the Canada Child Benefit, which will offer greater assistance to millions of families. The Toronto and Hamilton area has more than 350,000 children under the age of four and more than 70,000 births each year. Getting it right from the start achieves a lifetime of positive outcomes so continued momentum in this area will be critical.
It is also encouraging to see investments in youth as over 80,000 in the Toronto region alone are not in education, employment or training. We know the lifetime costs of youth unemployment can reach as high as $1 million per person and delays in entering the workforce that too many youth face may cost Canadians as much as $12.4 billion over the next 18 years. We’re pleased to see an expansion of the Youth Employment Strategy and Summer Jobs program, and the recognition that we need better approaches and opportunities for our most vulnerable youth.
We know government can’t – and shouldn’t – work alone to address youth unemployment and that employers and partners in education and communities have a keen self-interest to developing more impactful, evidence-based interventions.
Home to more than six million residents, a prosperous and thriving GTHA is critical to Canada’s long-term success. CivicAction looks forward to a new era of collaboration with the federal government to advance key priorities and to ensure all sectors have a hand in shaping this region we call home.