TORONTO — Canadian cities are at a crossroads. Drastically underfunded and without constitutional protection from their provincial governments, they are unable to thrive. According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), Canada’s house price to income ratio is the highest in the world – by a large margin.
“Affordable housing in Canada is decreasing at an alarming rate,” said Green Party Leader Elizabeth May (MP, Saanich-Gulf Islands). “It’s simply unacceptable that hard working Canadians cannot afford to live in the cities where they work. Tim Grant, our new Shadow Cabinet Critic for Municipal Affairs and Housing has worked with us to develop an extremely robust plan to address housing, urban infrastructure and municipal affairs moving forward.”
Tim Grant, Green Party candidate for University-Rosedale, has been involved in numerous urban projects in the Toronto region and is very involved with Charter City Toronto, a project to help the city gain the power to make its own decisions and have the financial resources it needs to thrive.
“Municipalities are drastically underfunded,” said Mr. Grant. “The system is broken. Currently only 10 per cent of every Canadian tax dollar goes to municipalities. It’s totally inadequate and we’ve reached a tipping point.
“Not only does our urban infrastructure need modernizing to adapt to the climate crisis, but our entire approach to municipal affairs and housing needs to be restructured and revitalised.”
Grant said that the Green Party will establish an inclusive Council of Canadian Governments, which will include federal, provincial, Indigenous and municipal governments. This Council will guarantee a steady flow of funding to municipalities, ensuring that they can provide more than just essential services.
Ms. May said that the Green Party of Canada embraces the use of City Charters to provide greater autonomy for municipalities. Under the Green Party plan, all new housing will be required to meet the highest energy efficiency standards; housing retrofits will be prioritized for remote and Northern Indigenous communities. Greens will set up a strictly-vetted screening system to match younger Canadians who cannot find housing with elderly couples or lonely seniors who could share their home and benefit from household help.
“To address the climate emergency, Greens will launch a massive project to maximize the energy efficiency of our built infrastructure — residential, commercial and institutional,” pointed out Ms. May. “This will employ four million skilled tradespeople. Funding will come from cancelling fossil fuel subsidies, and recouping the cost of loans for energy efficiency.“
Mr. Grant specifies that Greens will develop a national transportation strategy. “Investing in urban public transit and expanding VIA Rail to provide a more modern, efficient and frequent passenger rail service just makes sense,” said Grant. “To address large deficits in our water and sewer infrastructure, big investments are required to ensure that cities are prepared for unavoidable levels of climate-related changes in our hydrology. We will also develop a risk management plan to deal with extreme weather.”
“Electing more Greens to parliament this fall will ensure that our municipalities and urban infrastructure thrive, and that every Canadian can afford to live where they work,” concluded Ms. May.