Let`s build a better Canada. One town at a time. Building better lives.

Election 2019: Let’s empower local governments
to build better lives for Canadians

Federal Election 2019 is a pivotal opportunity to modernize how governments work together to serve Canadians. Local leaders are the closest to people’s daily challenges. They are building better lives, and with modernized tools and a seat at the nation-building table, they’ll be ready to do so much more.

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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.

Rural challenges are national opportunities

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) released a report today that details the important contribution rural municipalities make and outlines the unique challenges they face. The comprehensive report titled Rural Challenges, national opportunity - Shaping the future of rural Canada includes recommendations encouraging the federal government to tackle these challenges head-on and raise Canadians' quality of life nationwide. 

"When it comes to providing the infrastructure necessary to support a strong economy and high quality of life, rural governments are faced with two key problems-the challenge of serving dispersed communities and the limits of their fiscal and administrative capacity," said FCM's Rural Forum Chair, Ray Orb. 

Today's report provides recommendations to address the realities rural municipalities face. Key recommendations of this report include:

  • Applying a 'rural lens' to all federal policies and programs aimed at empowering smaller communities to better support local needs.
  • Designing future rural infrastructure programs that provide long-term predictable funding with flexibility to account for rural realities.
  • Committing long-term predictable resources to expanding broadband internet access in rural, northern and remote communities.

"This report tells the story of the significant contribution rural municipalities make to the nation's economy, but it also highlights the fiscal squeeze they face due to low population densities and the exodus of younger generations," added Orb. "But as a key driver of economic growth, we know that investing in rural Canada means building a better country for everyone."

FCM is leading the way in advocating for new tools that empower rural communities to build tomorrow's Canada and has secured unprecedented federal investment in recent years.

The full report is available here.

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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Northern and remote communities
Rural communities

Canadian Mayors champion economy and trade in Washington, D.C.

"Canadian and U.S. mayors are leading conversations about building liveable, competitive cities that will support talent, investment and growth. Canadian mayors leave Washington today confident that our American counterparts share our deep appreciation for the important relationship between our two countries toward our shared priorities.

Whether it was mayor-to-mayor meetings at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting, talks with thought leaders on the North American Free Trade Agreement at the Wilson Centre Canada Institute or engaging in trade discussions with Canadian Ambassador David MacNaughton, we are building relationships across borders to attract investment and promote local business abroad.

On both sides of the border, the mutual benefits of a strong and fair economic partnership between Canada and the United States are clear. Our free and fair trade partnership is critical to building globally competitive cities and a prosperous future.

The United States has no closer friend, ally or partner than Canada. We enjoy the longest-standing, most peaceful and mutually beneficial relationship in the world - a partnership that has long been a model. Canadian mayors are working to make it even stronger."

Don Iveson is Chair of the Big City Mayors' Caucus of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and Mayor of the City of Edmonton. 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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Big City Mayors' Caucus
Economic development
International trade

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

Published: September 2017 - PDF (1.7 MB)

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

Transforming Canadian housing through local innovation

Safe, affordable housing is the bedrock of livable, competitive cities—and of the stronger Canada we all aspire to build. Yet our cities are grappling with a serious housing crisis. As low and moderate-income households increasingly struggle to both pay the rent and feed the kids, this crisis is throttling human and economic potential from coast to coast to coast. Unprecedented housing market pressures, particularly in big cities, pose an unparalleled threat to our future economic prosperity.

These frontline realities inform these recommendations for the design of the National Housing Strategy. They are intended to ensure the strategy meets today’s urgent needs while simultaneously building a new social and affordable housing system for the 21st century—one that enables both social and geographic mobility among Canadians.

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

Published: September 2017 - PDF (1.7 MB)

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

Transforming Canadian housing through local innovation

Safe, affordable housing is the bedrock of livable, competitive cities—and of the stronger Canada we all aspire to build. Yet our cities are grappling with a serious housing crisis. As low and moderate-income households increasingly struggle to both pay the rent and feed the kids, this crisis is throttling human and economic potential from coast to coast to coast. Unprecedented housing market pressures, particularly in big cities, pose an unparalleled threat to our future economic prosperity.

These frontline realities inform these recommendations for the design of the National Housing Strategy. They are intended to ensure the strategy meets today’s urgent needs while simultaneously building a new social and affordable housing system for the 21st century—one that enables both social and geographic mobility among Canadians.

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

Published: September 2017 - PDF (1.7 MB)

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

Transforming Canadian housing through local innovation

Safe, affordable housing is the bedrock of livable, competitive cities—and of the stronger Canada we all aspire to build. Yet our cities are grappling with a serious housing crisis. As low and moderate-income households increasingly struggle to both pay the rent and feed the kids, this crisis is throttling human and economic potential from coast to coast to coast. Unprecedented housing market pressures, particularly in big cities, pose an unparalleled threat to our future economic prosperity.

These frontline realities inform these recommendations for the design of the National Housing Strategy. They are intended to ensure the strategy meets today’s urgent needs while simultaneously building a new social and affordable housing system for the 21st century—one that enables both social and geographic mobility among Canadians.

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

Published: September 2017 - PDF (1.7 MB)

National Housing Strategy: Getting it right

Transforming Canadian housing through local innovation

Safe, affordable housing is the bedrock of livable, competitive cities—and of the stronger Canada we all aspire to build. Yet our cities are grappling with a serious housing crisis. As low and moderate-income households increasingly struggle to both pay the rent and feed the kids, this crisis is throttling human and economic potential from coast to coast to coast. Unprecedented housing market pressures, particularly in big cities, pose an unparalleled threat to our future economic prosperity.

These frontline realities inform these recommendations for the design of the National Housing Strategy. They are intended to ensure the strategy meets today’s urgent needs while simultaneously building a new social and affordable housing system for the 21st century—one that enables both social and geographic mobility among Canadians.

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

Rural communities are shaping Canada’s future

Rural priorities led today's agenda at the biggest-ever national conference of the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). More than 2,000 municipal leaders are in the nation's capital this week to discuss municipalities' emerging role in shaping Canada's future.

"We're gathering here as Canadians get ready to celebrate 150 years of confederation. But today we're also showing how rural communities are already hard at work shaping the next 150," said FCM President Clark Somerville, himself a rural councillor in Ontario's Halton Region

Today's conference highlights included an interactive President's Rural Plenary featuring five panellists representing towns, villages, counties and regional municipalities across Canada:

  • Diana Rogerson, Councillor, Faro, Yukon
  • Martin Harder, Mayor, Winkler, Manitoba
  • J. Murray Jones, Councillor, Peterborough County, Ontario  
  • Jean Fortin, Maire, Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec
  • Mike Savage, Mayor, Halifax Regional Municipality, Nova Scotia

Responding to questions from delegates and FCM's president, panellists shared some of their most innovative local solutions to contemporary challenges-including stalled growth, youth-outmigration, aging populations, employer losses and inadequate communications links. Today's exchanges will inform an upcoming FCM report on the future of rural Canada.

"Our local challenges are also national challenges, and rural communities are responding with resilience and innovation. But we can't do this alone. That's why we're so creative about building partnerships-with stakeholders, other communities and other governments," said Somerville.

As the national voice of local government, FCM is successfully advocating for rural priorities with the federal government. For instance, Budget 2017 confirmed a $2 billion fund dedicated to the infrastructure priorities of rural, remote and northern communities. FCM played a key role in securing this unprecedented investment, and continues to press for federal programs and policies that align with rural realities.

"Our message to the federal government is that a thriving Canada needs a thriving rural Canada. From agriculture to manufacturing to tourism, our communities are vital economic players. Community-building is nation-building, today we're showcasing how nation-building plays out in communities of all sizes," said Somerville.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is the national voice of local government, with nearly 2,000 member cities and communities representing more than 90 per cent of Canadians

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Rural communities

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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Broadband
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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Broadband
Northern and remote communities
Rural communities
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