HALIFAX, NS, Nov. 6, 2023 /CNW/ – Canada’s Premiers are united in their commitment to take action on the affordability challenges facing Canadians, along with the need to improve health services, tackle housing issues, and strengthen strategic infrastructure.
Premiers* gathered in Halifax to discuss how provinces and territories are working to address these challenges, noting that improving the lives of Canadians requires all governments to work together in a spirit of genuine collaboration.
Climate change is a key concern for Canadians. Provinces and territories are taking action to address climate change and have made significant investments over time to meet the needs of their jurisdictions. Premiers expressed concern that federal actions around the federal carbon tax have treated Canadians differently and expect the federal government to support all Canadians fairly. Premiers are unanimous in calling on the Prime Minister to ensure that federal policies and programs are delivered in a fair and equitable way to all Canadians, particularly in light of the affordability challenges being faced across the country.
The Prime Minister has not convened a full in-person First Ministers’ Meeting since December 2018 despite repeated requests from Premiers. Premiers reiterated their call for a First Ministers’ Meeting to discuss competitiveness and strategic infrastructure. They emphasized the need for predictable and flexible federal funding to support provincial and territorial governments in addressing the full spectrum of infrastructure challenges and priorities unique to their jurisdictions.
Premiers expect the federal government to provide sustaining operating funding of projects in which they invest, while respecting provincial and territorial jurisdiction.
Ahead of the federal fall economic statement, Premiers also called for constructive federal engagement and immediate action on a number of priority issues.
Premiers emphasized the critical need for collaboration between all levels of government with respect to addressing the housing crisis. Provinces and territories need to have a key role in the development and execution of federal housing programs: the issue cannot be solved by the federal government and municipalities acting without the meaningful involvement and support of provinces and territories.
Premiers also discussed the link between infrastructure and housing priorities. Provinces and territories are making investments and policy/regulatory changes to support the availability and affordability of housing to meet labour market demand, address homelessness, and welcome newcomers. On top of this, many Canadians have lost homes to wildfires, flooding, and other forms of extreme weather.
While recent announcements by the federal government are a step in the right direction, more can and must be done. Effective intergovernmental collaboration between provincial/territorial governments and the federal government could support a range of solutions adapted to the diverse realities and needs of the country’s regions, including increased housing pressures as a result of the growing population including immigrants and asylum seekers.
Premiers also called on the federal government to address the chronic underfunding of housing in Indigenous communities.