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Big City Mayors release recommendations on opioid crisis

VANCOUVER — FCM’s Big-City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) released its report on the opioid crisis today, calling for coordinated, pan-Canadian action by all orders of government to solve the opioid crisis, which has already claimed thousands of lives and continues to escalate.

As a first step, the BCMC is calling for the federal government to immediately establish targets and timelines for the reduction of overdoses and overdose fatalities, with a progress report to be issued in September.

ʺOur first responders and community workers are on the front lines of this crisis, and cities are working together to save more lives—but we can’t do this alone. We need a coordinated, pan-Canadian response involving all orders of government,” said Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson, who chairs the BCMC Mayors’ Task Force on the Opioid Crisis. “We are seeing this crisis impact cities across the country, yet there are no targets to reduce and ultimately end overdose deaths. That needs to change right away and the first step to doing that is by setting clear targets for reducing deaths that all orders of government work towards.

Key recommendations in the Task Force’s report include:

  • The adoption of a comprehensive and coordinated pan-Canadian action plan that addresses the root causes of the opioid crisis;
  • Expand access to a range of treatment options, including medically-supervised opioid substitution therapy, and reducing delays in the time it takes to access treatment;
  • Establish a standardized, pan-Canadian format for the collection of death and non-fatal overdose data, with minimum quarterly public reports;

All governments need to be at the table to assess how this crisis is playing out on the ground across the country. Coordination is also essential to ensure that federal funds are directed to removing real barriers to people seeking help and treatment. The Federal Ministers of Health and Public Safety committed in February to sitting down with the BCMC Opioids Task Force and provincial representatives to discuss how all levels of government can work together to address the opioid crisis, and the Task Force looks forward to this meeting taking place.

“The federal response so far isn’t reaching the frontlines in the way we need to save lives and tackle this crisis. Mayors are ready to help turn this around, but we need to be at the table. It’s time for all orders of government to get behind a coordinated action plan, before this opioid crisis spirals further out of control,” said Robertson.

The Mayors’ Task Force on the Opioid Crisis convenes mayors of 13 cities: Vancouver, Surrey, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The Task Force was launched on February 3, 2017, by the Big-City Mayors’ Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
Read the full report here. 

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FCM Media Relations, (613) 907-6395, media@fcm.ca

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Statement by Mayor Gregor Robertson, Chair of Big City Mayors’ Caucus’ Task Force on the Opioid Crisis on the meeting of the FPT Health Ministers

"The opioid overdose crisis is having a devastating impact on Canadian families and communities, with thousands of lives lost to preventable causes. It's also taking a heavy toll on our cities' first responders, front-line workers and community volunteers, who are working around the clock to save lives.  

"Canada's cities are the front lines of the overdose crisis, where the death toll is spiking due to the gaps in addictions treatment and care. Convening a ministers' meeting without bringing mayors to the table is another missed opportunity to bring all orders of government together. We need to join forces to effectively tackle this crisis, and identify specific actions to connect people to the health services and supportive housing they need to end this tragic epidemic.

"Despite some progress on opening harm reduction services and improving data and reporting, this overdose crisis is escalating. We've seen almost no national progress to improve access to treatment, minimal awareness and education campaigns, and there are no established timelines or evidence-based targets to end opioid overdoses and deaths, as recommended by the Mayors' Task Force earlier this year.

"We urgently need a co-ordinated, pan-Canadian response led by the federal government - that sets clear targets and timelines for solving the overdose crisis, sharing information, and coordinating action across all orders of government. Canada must build and track evidence-based solutions and ensure that federal dollars urgently save lives through the Four Pillars - treatment, education, harm reduction and enforcement."  

The Mayors' Task Force on the Opioid Crisis convenes mayors of 13 cities: Vancouver, Surrey, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The Task Force was launched on February 3, 2017, by the Big-City Mayors' Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. Read the full report here

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Opioid announcement advances urgently needed action

"Canada's opioid crisis continues at a horrifying pace. The families, front-line workers, volunteers and communities enduring the worst of this emergency deserve action from all orders of government. And with an estimated 3,000 opioid-related deaths expected this year alone, the urgency of response is clear. 

"Wednesday's announcement by the Minster of Health to move to expand treatment options and reduce barriers and support those fighting on the frontlines of the crisis is an important step  forward. Authorizing drug-checking services at supervised consumption sites, easing legislative barriers to establishing overdose prevention sites and commitments to develop peer-driven public awareness campaigns respond directly to some of the Big City Mayors' Caucus' recommendations released earlier this year. 

"There is still significant work ahead to ensure a coordinated national response by all orders of government, including municipalities and Indigenous communities. Federal leadership is urgently needed to establish comprehensive timelines, measures and evidenced-based targets for the harm reduction, treatment, prevention and enforcement responses to the overdose crisis. An intergovernmental plan must align actions and resources with the essential work on the ground and respond to the specific needs of municipalities and Indigenous communities.

"Being on the front lines of this crisis, Canada's cities have consistently called for all orders of government to be working together in a co-ordinated, pan-Canadian response to end this tragic epidemic. 

"As we recognize the progress in Wednesday's announcement, we also look forward to meeting with the Health Minister to further align our actions to solve this national health crisis."

The BCMC Task Force on the Opioid Crisis convenes mayors of 13 cities: Vancouver, Surrey, Edmonton, Calgary, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Hamilton, London, Kitchener, Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal. The Task Force was launched on February 3, 2017, by the Big-City Mayors' Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

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National housing strategy: A breakthrough for affordable housing

"The national housing strategy released this afternoon is a breakthrough for cities and communities from coast to coast to coast. This is the kind of federal leadership that local governments have been seeking for more than 20 years.

"Municipal leaders work on the frontlines of Canada's housing crisis. We see its effects etched into the faces of parents who must choose between making rent and feeding the kids. We see it as local businesses struggle to attract talented workers. And FCM led an intensive campaign to shape a national housing strategy that will tackle this crisis at its roots.

"The federal government took our advice to focus on the fundamentals. Replacing expiring social housing rent subsidies is a breakthrough for thousands of families who fear losing their homes as long-term operating agreements wind down. Investing to repair and renew that social housing will keep more people in their homes and help secure tomorrow's supply. And getting back to investing in affordable housing construction is the breakthrough we needed to start tackling the supply crunch.

"FCM will continue to examine the national housing strategy in the coming days, and we'll naturally have outstanding issues and questions. For instance, it's not yet clear how this strategy will leverage municipal expertise in decision-making on housing development to match local needs with the best possible solutions.

"But at the end of the day, this strategy is a breakthrough for 1.7 million families who can't find a decent home they can afford. It's a breakthrough for mayors working to build more livable, inclusive, competitive cities and communities across Canada. And we look forward to working with all orders of government to unlock the incredible potential that this strategy represents.

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

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FCM welcomes National Housing Co-Investment Fund announcement

"The launch of the National Housing Strategy (NHS) last fall was a breakthrough, and today's announcement brings its largest component to life. This significant investment puts tools directly in the capable hands of local governments and affordable housing providers.

"These investments are about strengthening our federal-municipal partnership to build a future for Canada where 1.7 million households aren't struggling to find a decent home.  Turning these investments into real outcomes will require sustained collaboration among all partners. With the right tools, local expertise stands ready to repair, retrofit and grow Canada's affordable housing supply. 

"Municipalities are already innovating to support high-impact housing projects — with land contributions, expedited approvals, zoning changes and more. Engaging municipal expertise in the continued design of this fund will be critical to its ability to prioritize high-impact housing projects that reflect local needs. FCM expects deepened engagement and stands ready to work with the federal government to help get the details right.  

"Affordable housing is the bedrock of the livable, inclusive communities we want to build. That's why FCM has worked hard to secure and shape the National Housing Strategy. We commend Minister Duclos for his leadership, and the federal government for their meaningful reengagement in affordable housing."

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities 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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FCM statement on the passage of the Cannabis Act

"The passage of C-45 today marks a significant step towards the legalization of non-medical cannabis in Canada. All orders of government must now concentrate their efforts to ensure this transition occurs safely and effectively. Municipal governments remain fully committed to doing our part, with FCM providing continued support.

"With recreational cannabis soon to be sold and consumed in our communities, local governments are on the front lines of keeping Canadians safe and well-served. Legalization will impact as many as 17 municipal departments and impose significant new costs. And municipalities have been working hard to upgrade by-laws, processes and capacity to get ready.

"The federal government has engaged municipalities and recognized our key role in a successful transition to legalized cannabis. As a result of our discussions, our federal partner released a significant portion of its own excise tax revenues, with the clear intent that it be used to offset municipal costs. However, many of our members are still seeking clarity on how their provincial and territorial governments will flow those revenues to local governments.

"Among the most notable implications of legalization are costs to our police services through training, equipment and ongoing administration. We're also seeking more clarity about the federal government's commitment of $81 million to help address local law enforcement costs- specifically, how municipalities can access this funding and when it will become available.

"Municipalities need to know that financial tools will be in place to cover all costs associated with this federal initiative. At the same time, local governments will continue seeing full engagement with other orders of government and continuing their own preparations as we inch closer towards legalization."

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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Canada’s municipalities establish unified response to Syrian Refugee Crisis

Ottawa - Municipal leaders across Canada are pressing forward with their unified response to the humanitarian crisis facing Syria. Today the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) released details on the membership of the Task Force on Syrian Refugee Resettlement.

Membership on the Task Force reflects the diversity of the municipal sector. Cities that are traditional immigration hubs such as Toronto, Vancouver, Montréal, Ottawa and Halifax will be represented.  The Task Force will also include smaller municipalities, such as the City of St. Albert, AB, and the Town of Aurora, ON; both equally committed to assist in ways that are commensurate with their local realities.

FCM President Raymond Louie and Halifax Mayor Mike Savage will co-chair the Task Force."The scale of the crisis in Syria compels us all to respond in a way that is generous and compassionate, but to have a real impact our efforts must also be effective. This Task Force will be critical to our success," said president Raymond Louie.

The Task Force was launched earlier this month at FCM's board meeting in Fredericton when board members unanimously passed an Emergency Recommendation to coordinate the efforts of cities and communities across the country to amplify the effectiveness of local initiatives already underway. The Task Force will lead a Canada-wide municipal response to the Syrian refugee crisis to complement federal and provincial efforts. The Task Force will allow municipalities to share information and best practices.  It will also provide an efficient means of coordinating with provincial, territorial and federal counterparts to meet immediate and urgent resettlement targets.

Canada's cities and communities were quick to act on the obligation facing all orders of government to offer solutions to this crisis situation.

  • The City of London is working with local groups to raise awareness and funds to sponsor families from Syria to settle in the city.
  • The City of Vancouver held a public forum to discuss actions the public can take to address the emergency situation.
  • The City of Halifax adopted a motion assuring Canada's Minister of Citizenship and Immigration that the city will provide a welcoming environment for refugees.
  • The City of Montréal adopted a declaration recognizing the urgency of the situation and stating its intent to work with all stakeholders on refugee resettlement.

"Municipalities across Canada have always been crucial to the success of Canada's efforts to resettle refugees in our country. The Task Force is a signal to other orders of government that our communities are prepared to be part of the solution to this humanitarian disaster," says Halifax Mayor Mike Savage.

The Task Force will meet for the first time next week to begin the process of coordinating the local government response to this crisis.

FCM is the national voice of municipal government. In leading the municipal movement, FCM works to align federal and local priorities, recognizing that strong hometowns make for a strong Canada.


FCM's Task Force on Syrian Refugee Resettlement

Co-Chairs
Raymond Louie, FCM President
Mike Savage, Mayor, City of Halifax
City of Saskatoon, SK
City of London, ON
City of Montréal, QC
City of Hamilton, ON
City of Edmonton, AB
City of Vancouver, BC
City of St. Albert, AB
Town of Aurora, ON
City of Halifax, NS
City of Toronto, ON
City of Kitchener, ON
City of Nelson, BC
City of Ottawa, ON

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FCM releases how-to guide to welcoming refugees - Welcoming Communities builds on municipal experience with Syrian newcomers

A year after Canada began opening its arms to tens of thousands of Syrian refugees, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) has released Welcoming Communities: A Toolkit for Municipal Governments. The practical guide builds on lessons learned by over 300 municipalities that have helped to welcome the newcomers

"I am proud of how Canadian municipalities stepped up and embraced our new Canadian family members," said FCM President Clark Somerville. "Now we've turned some of that experience into a practical guide to becoming truly welcoming communities for refugees.

"In September 2015, FCM launched a Task Force on Refugee Resettlement to share information across the country, to coordinate with federal, provincial and territorial governments, and to support frontline organziations and neighbourhood groups that led strong local responses. Welcoming Communities surveys the complex challenge of welcoming many refugees in a short period of time-focussing on priorities such as finding affordable housing, providing language and cultural supports, and building community connections.

"Once again, we are seeing how  municipal action helps meet national challenges," added Somerville, "Of course, as emergency federal support winds down now in 'Month 13', we'll need to help these refugees face new challenges, like finding affordable longer-term housing.

"A housing crisis continues to play out in communities across Canada, with a deepening shortage of affordable housing options. FCM has recommended a comprehensive response, calling for significant funding for housing solutions in Budget 2017.

Since November 2015, 35,000 Syrian refugees have arrived in Canada. FCM and its members recognize the cultural, social and economic value that newcomers contribute to our communities, and they will continue to be part of a solution to this tragic situation.

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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Big-city mayors reach out to newcomers and refugees

The 22 members of FCM's Big City Mayors' Caucus issued the following joint statement reaffirming their commitment to welcoming refugees and other newcomers to their communities.

The strength of Canada's cities lies in the diversity of our residents.

Those residents come from every part of the globe, seeking a decent quality of life, and sometimes safe harbour. As mayors, we understand that newcomers strengthen our economies with vital skills and capacity for innovation, and they enrich our communities with fresh perspectives and approaches to shared challenges.

Immigrants and refugees deserve equal treatment under the law and the same opportunities as any other Canadian. Exclusion of anyone based on their nationality or faith is unacceptable. On behalf of the millions we serve, we stand together against all forms of racism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Canada's cities continuously strive to be welcoming communities. We are committed to diversity and oppose all forms of discrimination — both because our values compel us, and because Canada's future prosperity depends on it. 

To read more about how Canadian cities and communities are actively welcoming refugees, check out the Welcoming Communities toolkit.   

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of municipal government, with nearly 2,000 members representing 91 per cent of the Canadian populationIts Big City Mayors' Caucus convenes 22 large Canadian cities from coast to coast. 

Information

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

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Canada’s municipalities pay tribute to Fort McMurray and the collaborative spirit of cities and communities

Municipal leaders from across Canada today paid tribute to municipal leaders, first responders, and residents affected by the wildfire that engulfed the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Alberta, including the community of Fort McMurray. A special tribute was held during the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) Annual Conference in Winnipeg.

"Like all Canadians, I was shocked by the images of devastation that emerged as the fire swept through Fort McMurray," said FCM President Raymond Louie. "But I was so impressed by the immense courage of first-responders, the extraordinary leadership of local leaders, and the outstanding support from neighbouring municipalities and Canadians from coast, to coast, to coast." 

The Fort McMurray wildfire burned more than 400,000 hectares, destroyed 2,400 buildings, and forced the largest evacuation in Alberta' history. However, it also spurred community spirit and an outpouring of generosity from Canadians, and municipal leaders  from coast to coast to coast who reached out to help their fellow-Canadians and municipal colleagues  in need.

During the ceremony, FCM President Raymond Louie applauded the leadership of Wood Buffalo Regional Council, including Mayor Mellisa Blake. Councillor Allan Vinni was on hand to receive this public acknowledgement. As well, President Louie commended all neighbouring municipalities who stepped up to welcome displaced residents, provided goods and services, and opened up their facilities to assist.  Mayor Omer Moghrabi of County Lac LaBiche and Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson were publically thanked for their tremendous and continued show of support.

"The municipal sector banded together to support one of its own, and the generosity and leadership of community leaders remains as the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo undertakes the formidable task of rebuilding," said FCM President Louie.

FCM members will continue to support the Wood Buffalo community in the months and years to come as efforts now shift to rebuilding the community. Canadians are asked to make donations to the relief and recovery efforts through the Canadian Red Cross.

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