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FCM’s programs and advocacy help secure new tools that empower municipalities to build stronger communities of all sizes. Explore below to find out what’s new with us.

Looking Back Series

In our Looking Back series of case studies, three of FCM's champion municipal volunteers tell stories of partnership, growth, and long-term sustainability. 

Follow Roger MacIsaac (Amherst, NS), Maurice Gallant (Fredericton, NS), Marten Kruysse (formerly District of North Vancouver, BC) and Nesen Naidoo (Drayton Valley, Alberta) as they return to visit friends and colleagues overseas, and learn more about the results of program activities that continue to grow after programs have ended.  

Local Economic Development in the City of Escalante, Philippines
Town of Amherst, NS, Canada and Escalante, Philippines

Lasting Results, Lasting Friendships
Fredericton NB, Canada and Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

A Return to Soc Trang
District of North Vancouver, BC Canada and Soc Trang City, Vietnam

Back To Matagalpa
Town of Drayton Valley, Alberta and Matagalpa, Nicaragua

Looking Back Series

In our Looking Back series of case studies, three of FCM's champion municipal volunteers tell stories of partnership, growth, and long-term sustainability. 

Follow Roger MacIsaac (Amherst, NS), Maurice Gallant (Fredericton, NS), Marten Kruysse (formerly District of North Vancouver, BC) and Nesen Naidoo (Drayton Valley, Alberta) as they return to visit friends and colleagues overseas, and learn more about the results of program activities that continue to grow after programs have ended.  

Local Economic Development in the City of Escalante, Philippines
Town of Amherst, NS, Canada and Escalante, Philippines

Lasting Results, Lasting Friendships
Fredericton NB, Canada and Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand

A Return to Soc Trang
District of North Vancouver, BC Canada and Soc Trang City, Vietnam

Back To Matagalpa
Town of Drayton Valley, Alberta and Matagalpa, Nicaragua

High-speed broadband is essential for rural and northern Canada

The following op-ed was published in The Hill Times on May 2, 2016.

By Raymond Louie, President, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Acting Mayor of Vancouver
Ray Orb, Chair of FCM's Rural Forum & President of the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM)

A long overdue conversation has begun in Canada about how to ensure large sections of our country are no longer cut off from an essential service which is taken for granted by so many others — access to high-speed Internet. For too long now, many people in rural, remote, and northern communities have either been forced to live with inadequate and spotty online services, or in many cases, no high-speed Internet at all. In fact, Canada's current broadband coverage standards for upload and download speeds fall well behind many industrialized nations.

In 2016, building a nationwide information superhighway is as important to Canada's future as building the transcontinental railroad was over 130 years ago. Simply put, it's hard to live without. Imagine a small business owner trying to compete in today's global economy without high-speed Internet. Or a patient waiting for crucial medical test results that are delayed because those results are not available online. Or a young person trying to improve their job skills without access to an online course. 

But in fact, too many Canadians do live without it. A recent report published by the Canadian Radio-television Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) found that only a fraction of people and businesses in rural and remote communities have access to the upload and download speeds that are almost universally available in our urban centres. For example, almost 100 per cent of people in urban areas have access to download speeds of between 16-25 Megabytes per second (Mbps), compared to only 29 per cent of Canadians in rural communities. That's a significant gap and it needs to be closed.

Not only are a large section of our fellow Canadians being cut off from vital services, they are also being prevented from fully participating in Canadian society and contributing the ideas and the innovations that make our country great. Rural Canada makes up 30 per cent of the country's population and produces one-third of our economic output.  It is time to get Internet service in rural and northern Canada moving at full speed.

The good news is that this conversation is shifting from a debate over whether broadband access is an essential service to how we can work together as a nation to get everyone connected.

The head of the CRTC Jean-Pierre Blais recently talked about the importance of developing a coherent national Internet deployment strategy in Canada. As municipal leaders, we entirely agree with that sentiment, as well as the insistence that it will take a collective effort from all quarters of society including the CRTC, governments, and private industry to make it happen. 

The CRTC is holding hearings right now to better understand broadband connectivity across Canada. FCM appeared there April 15 to lay out the case that high-speed broadband access must be considered an essential service. This means putting in place new funding mechanisms that will support universal access in areas not served through private investments or targeted government funding programs. 

But recognizing high-speed broadband as a basic service is only part of the solution. The CRTC must also ensure the system adapts to ever-changing technological advancements by regularly updating Canada's broadband speed targets. Otherwise we run the risk of drawing up plans for the best system with the fastest upload and download standards today only to see that system quickly become inadequate to people's needs tomorrow.

Canada also needs to ensure our national system includes backup connections for parts of the country where Internet outages can leave people without service for days or even weeks. For example, remote regions where repairing a broken cable is a lengthy and complicated affair, or in the north where there is simply no backup for satellite interruptions. 

Making sure high-speed service is available to everyone will require significant public and private investment. We will all need to work together to build this network. That is why FCM welcomed the federal government's commitment in the recent budget to spend an additional $500-million over the next five years to expand broadband services to rural and remote communities. These investments have the potential to make a significant difference in the lives of Canadians in underserved areas and should be taken into account by the CRTC as it studies additional mechanisms to fund the roll-out of universal broadband access.

Canadians have always been willing to work together to make sure that everyone enjoys the quality of life we all expect and deserve. Today that means pulling together as governments, businesses, and consumers to make sure that no matter where we live, a strong economy and connected, vibrant hometowns are always just a click away.

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Rural communities

CRTC broadband decision: Big win for rural and northern communities

FCM President Clark Somerville issued the following statement in response to today's decision by the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) in the Review of Basic Telecommunications Services.

Broadband is now fundamental to modern life and commerce. The CRTC recognized this today in its Decision adopting a "universal service objective" mandating universal access to reliable broadband — in communities of all sizes — through both fixed and mobile wireless networks.

The CRTC launched its sweeping review of basic telecommunications services in April 2015. FCM's final submission to that process raised the alarm over the "broadband gap" that constrains so many northern and rural communities. Some struggle with bandwidth and network capacity that cannot meet user demands. Others have no broadband coverage at all.

For these communities, today's decision can be transformative. Expanding broadband access will improve local quality of life, help stem youth out-migration and support economic growth — by boosting productivity, supporting innovation and improving market access. The CRTC is responding to FCM's call by adopting a universal speed target of 50 mbps for downloads and 10 mbps for uploads, backed by a new long-term funding mechanism.

This decision comes less than a week after the federal government launched its Connect to Innovate program. First announced in Budget 2016, this five-year $500-million commitment will accelerate broadband upgrades in high-cost rural areas. This plan responds to many of FCM's recommendations and we will keep working with our federal partners to confirm its details.

Even with this new federal support, however, market forces alone will not close the broadband gap for many remote and northern communities. FCM will be examining the CRTC's new funding mechanism to ensure it complements Connect to Innnovate funding to best support the communities that need it most. The next step will be to develop a comprehensive, long-term plan and timeline to make universal broadband access a reality for Canadians. FCM is eager to work with all orders of government to make that happen.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of municipal government, with 2,000 members representing 90 per cent of the Canadian population.


Information: Michael FitzPatrick, Media Relations: mfitzpatrick@fcm.ca or 613 907 6346

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Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization

Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization

Published: April 2018 - PDF (1.2 MB)

Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization

A roadmap for Canadian local governments

Canadians care about the impact of cannabis legalization and municipal governments will be the first place they turn to if they have concerns. Developing the rules and processes that will govern the legalization of non-medical cannabis is a complex task. Municipalities will need to make critical decisions about how and when to write new bylaws on a range of issues including land use planning, business licensing and public consumption.

FCM designed the Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization to provide an overview of the work ahead for local governments and offer both policy and regulatory options to choose from. It will take coordinated effort from all orders of government to ensure that Canadians are safe and well-served during the process of cannabis legalization. This guide can help communities get it right.

Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization

Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization

Published: April 2018 - PDF (1.2 MB)

Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization

A roadmap for Canadian local governments

Canadians care about the impact of cannabis legalization and municipal governments will be the first place they turn to if they have concerns. Developing the rules and processes that will govern the legalization of non-medical cannabis is a complex task. Municipalities will need to make critical decisions about how and when to write new bylaws on a range of issues including land use planning, business licensing and public consumption.

FCM designed the Municipal Guide to Cannabis Legalization to provide an overview of the work ahead for local governments and offer both policy and regulatory options to choose from. It will take coordinated effort from all orders of government to ensure that Canadians are safe and well-served during the process of cannabis legalization. This guide can help communities get it right.

Cannabis legalization: Municipalities key to keeping Canadians safe and well-served

Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) President Vicki-May Hamm issued the following statement to mark the legalization of non-medical cannabis across Canada today.

“Today marks a significant shift in how our society operates. From public safety to retail services, to transit and labour law, keeping Canadians safe and well-served in a world of legal cannabis will require significant coordination among all orders of government.

“Local governments are on the front lines of cannabis legalization. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities has been helping cities and communities get ready nationwide by providing tools and engaging our various partners. We also know that keeping Canadians safe and well-served will require a clear framework for sharing the costs that come with this new policy.

“Legalization has operational and cost implications for as many as 17 municipal departments. This is why the federal government also released half of its share of cannabis excise tax revenues to provinces and territories—to support municipalities. Yet, only three provinces have revealed plans to share those funds with local governments. Too many of our members across Canada do not have any clarity on how cannabis costs will be covered through provincial revenue sharing frameworks. As the lead on cannabis legalization, the Government of Canada will need to ensure adequate revenue-sharing plans are in place and municipalities are made whole for the costs of this federal policy.

“In September 2017, the federal government also committed $81 million to help our local police services manage a reality of legal cannabis—including through training and technology to tackle drug-impaired driving. Yet as legalization day comes and goes, we are still waiting for details on how this support will flow.

“Local governments have been hard at work changing bylaws, building capacity and engaging citizens to get ready for legalization. Canadians can count on local leaders to be ready to adapt to challenges on the road ahead. One challenge we cannot tackle alone, however, is ensuring local costs are fully and sustainably covered for this new federal initiative.

“Safe and effective cannabis legalization requires collaboration across orders of government and municipalities are ready to do their part. We all need to work together to get this right.”

Vicki-May Hamm is President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Mayor of the City of Magog, Quebec. FCM is the national voice of local government, with nearly 2,000 members representing more than 90 per cent of Canada’s population.

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Diverse Voices: Tools and Practices to Support all Women

Diverse Voices: Tools and Practices to Support all WomenWomen are consistently underrepresented in leadership positions across the political and professional spheres, filling only 26 per cent of the seats in the House of Commons, Provincial and Municipal governments.

Diverse Voices: Tools and Practices to Support all Women explores how municipalities across Canada can work to reduce, and eventually eliminate, the leadership gap. Using examples from select municipalities, it provides resources and tools for local action to support women as leaders and agents of change.

Download the toolkit

FCM welcomes Canadian poverty reduction strategy

 "Tackling poverty in Canada requires coordination among all levels of government, starting with municipalities. Today's release of a federal poverty reduction strategy is a meaningful response to FCM recommendations, and is a positive step toward tackling the poverty that affects Canadians in every city and town across the country. 

"Every single day, municipal leaders see how poverty prevents people and communities from achieving their full potential. From their place on the front lines, local governments are also making the most of the tools available to respond. They are bringing diverse actors together to tailor federal and provincial initiatives to local realities, and many are leading the way with comprehensive local poverty reduction plans of their own.

"Opportunity for All aligns with FCM's recommendations to boost access to the things people need to thrive - from affordable housing, childcare and transit to robust income supports. Our top priority is an effective roll-out of the National Housing Strategy engaging all orders of government. As well, strengthening data collection and reducing data gaps, if this engages local governments and service providers, will enable municipalities to design, scale up and track local solutions with sharper evidenced-driven policies and programs.

"The experience of living in poverty varies across the country, and so do the right solutions. While Canadians see and feel poverty's effects most at the local level, other orders of government manage investment and policy levers that are vital to lasting solutions. So we especially welcome today's fresh recognition that tackling poverty requires coordinated action across orders of government, grounded in municipal expertise.

"FCM was pleased to participate in this process through our CEO, Brock Carlton, who served on the Ministerial Advisory Committee that informed Opportunity for All. To succeed, any national poverty reduction strategy will need to continue engaging the local order of government every step of the way. FCM and our municipal members look forward to working in partnership to build a Canada where everyone has the opportunity to thrive."

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is the national voice of municipal governments, with nearly 2,000 members representing more than 90 per cent of the Canadian population.

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Housing
Inclusive communities
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Coast-to-coast cooperation to build tomorrow's Canada

"Following this week's announcement in Saskatchewan, Canada now has bilateral infrastructure agreements in place in every province and territory—a milestone achievement. These agreements set the stage for a decade of transformational progress driven by local governments: better roads and transit, modern wastewater systems, more resilient and sustainable infrastructure, and more.

"For more than two years, FCM has helped shape the long-term federal plan to invest in Canada's transit, social, green and rural infrastructure. As a result, we have set in motion a historic opportunity to strengthen the cities and communities that Canadians call home. And this opportunity was always going to rely on strong agreements with provinces and territories.

"These bilateral agreements make major commitments that recognize local governments' central role in nation-building. Raising the bar on cost-sharing—to at least 40 per cent federal and 33 per cent provincial—empowers municipalities to move projects forward. And with strong follow-through, committing to fund a fair 'balance' of municipal and provincial priorities breaks new ground in this relationship.

"For rural, northern and remote communities, even stronger cost-sharing and streamlined project administration means more projects can go ahead. At the same time, predictable, allocation-based public transit funding puts Canadian cities in the driver's seat, as they plan and deliver the next decade of ambitious transit expansions.

"Municipalities deliver local solutions to national challenges, from economic productivity to public safety to climate change. With infrastructure agreements in place, the next step is provincial and territorial intake processes that work locally. Provincial-territorial municipal associations across the country are ready to help get this right and get projects moving. This is about orders of government working together to build tomorrow's Canada-livable, competitive and sustainable."

Vicki-May Hamm is President of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Mayor of the City of Magog, QC. FCM is the national voice of local government, with nearly 2,000 members representing more than 90 per cent of Canada's population.

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Infrastructure
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