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New Deal for Cities

A New Deal for Cities

Peggy Nash understands the importance of healthy cities.

Peggy knows that as our economy becomes more globalized, we are learning how we live locally is more and more important to both our economic prospects and our quality of life. Over 80 percent of Canadians now live in or near large cities. Economists, planners, social policy experts and business leaders all agree: The state of our cities will determine how we succeed as a society. If we fail, our cities will become magnets for poverty, income inequality and urban decay.

The federal government has ample resources to help our cities become safer, healthier, fairer, and cleaner. It just has other priorities such as its $4.4 billion dollar corporate tax cut, which is still in the works despite federal government claims of a "tight budget".

Peggy wants a New Deal for Toronto and other cities and communities across Canada. Her five point plan is:

1) It’s time for a New Fiscal Federalism:

Cities have more responsibility than ever for social and economic services, yet less resources to do the job. They are vulnerable to federal and provincial downloading and fiscal politicking. They need a strong, sustainable revenue base, with the power to raise revenues and allocate them. This means a permanent, stable funding formula, where cities can harvest extra revenues as the economy grows and their populations expand. A few one-time giveaways, carefully timed with an eye to the next election, won’t cut it. We need a new model. Jack Layton and Canada’s mayors and the provinces are ready to negotiate one – but is Paul Martin?

2) Affordable Housing is a right:

Under Paul Martin’s leadership as Finance Minister, the federal government completely abandoned its role in social housing for the first time in a generation. We see the results of this short-sighted irresponsibility every day in Toronto: homelessness, under-housing, and the gritty day-to-day hardship of hundreds of thousands of families – especially newcomers to Canada – paying far more for inadequate housing than they can possibly afford. Ottawa has to get back into housing with permanent adequate financial support for co-ops, low-rent housing, and shared-cost developments.

3) Transit and Physical Infrastructure have to be funded:

Here, too, Ottawa has been making up for a decade of neglect with one-off political band-aids, rather than real long-term reform. With their zealous desire to continually reduce government debt (Canada already has the second-lowest debt load in the G7), Paul Martin’s Liberals forget that our crumbling infrastructure imposes another debt on Canadians that is just as real and just as expensive. The federal government should finance new transport and infrastructure investments on a 50:50 basis, with adequate long-term funds delivered through a new multi-government infrastructure financing agency.

4) Social infrastructure must be supported:

Our communities require services that respond to the needs of their residents. Funding for child care, support for seniors, retraining programs for workers, are all a top priority. We must invest in settlement services for new immigrants. Peggy is all too aware of the price we have paid in Toronto for not funding and developing social infrastructure - increased poverty, alienation and neglect.

5) ‘For the public good’:

Services must be delivered by the public sector. Contracting out and privatization are not the answer. Ottawa must clearly state that investment and support for public services is in the interest of the public.

Our leader, Jack Layton, and Mayor David Miller, have the foresight, political will and courage to demand that Ottawa implements a New Deal for Canadian cities. In the next federal election, in our community, you know that Peggy Nash will be fighting for a New Deal that will respond to the needs of Toronto.