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June 6th, 2015

Speech to FCM convention

Thank you very much.

It’s always a pleasure to be in Edmonton and to be back with the FCM.

I’d like to thank Mayor Don Iveson for hosting us.

His leadership in the Truth and Reconciliation file was truly inspiring.

You know, it really is an exciting time in municipal politics.

Some of this country’s most impressive leaders work in municipal government.

I see it every time I meet with a mayor or city councillor, right across this great country of ours.

Of course, that leadership extends right up to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

Over the past year, Brad Woodside has done a remarkable job as President.

Through your hard work, the entire FCM team has succeeded in making critical municipal issues a priority in this fall’s federal election by getting municipalities on side for clear, costed proposals.

New Democrats are listening and are going to make them a priority, as well.

I look forward to working with your incoming President, my friend Raymond Louie, and to achieving great successes together.

Because we know that Canada succeeds when our cities and towns succeed and that stronger communities mean a stronger Canada.

Our hometowns are central to the life of this country.

They’re where we work, start our businesses and raise our families.

They’re hubs of innovation and culture.

But for too long, the federal government has failed our cities and communities.

For too long, Ottawa has failed to live up to its promises to our hometowns.

And that failure has led to crumbling infrastructure, gridlock and long commute times costing billions in lost productivity, overcrowded and inadequate transit and an affordable housing crisis.

This is bad for residents and businesses in each of our communities.

But it doesn't have to be this way.

That’s why so many municipal leaders and millions of Canadians are looking for change in Ottawa.

Today I’d like to share with you my vision for how an NDP government will bring about change for Canada’s municipalities.

And I’d like to lay out a few of the NDP’s practical first steps to help ensure that our cities and communities have the tools they need and the partner they deserve.

Parce que le NPD a un plan concret à soumettre à vos collectivités.

Ce que le NPD propose aux municipalités.

C’est un partenaire fiable et à long terme sur les enjeux vous tiennent à cœur.

Un partenaire fédéral qui respecte scrupuleusement les champs de compétence.

Un partenaire fédéral qui travaillera avec les provinces et territoires, non pas à leur place.

Le NPD est conscient que les municipalités ont besoin un partenaire fédéral fiable pour réaliser les grands projets d’infrastructures.

Malheureusement, cet appui n’a pas été à la hauteur, et souvent, n’était carrément pas au rendez-vous.

À l’heure actuelle, les municipalités reçoivent à peine de quoi renouveler leurs infrastructures existantes.

Au cours des dernières décennies, les gouvernements conservateurs et libéraux ont, par leur inaction, réussi à creuser un déficit de 172 milliards $ dans les infrastructures canadiennes.

Les Canadiens méritent mieux.

Pour NPD, « PPP » signifie Partenaire, Permanant, Prévisible.

New Democrats understand that modern, reliable infrastructure is a key ingredient for any great city.

Good roads, welcoming community centres, modern wastewater treatment facilities.

These are the things that help improve the quality of life for Canadian families, no matter where they live.

How can it be that municipalities are responsible for 60 per cent of the infrastructure with 8 percent of the tax base?

It’s mathematically impossible.

The cost of constant repairs alone, on already stretched municipal budgets, has simply become too much to bear.

Despite their empty promises, successive Liberal and Conservative governments have failed to make a dent in Canada’s infrastructure deficit.

When they do finally invest, it’s often inadequate with too many strings attached.

And smaller communities still don’t have the resources to navigate through complicated red tape, despite Conservative promises to get rid of it.

An NDP government will partner with cities by providing bold new investments in key infrastructure projects.

Today I am announcing that an NDP government will bring change for municipalities by investing an additional $1.5 billion in new annual funding to municipalities via the gas tax transfer.

By the end of our first term, the total gas tax transfer will reach $3.7-billion annually.

This new revenue will create over 23,000 new construction and manufacturing jobs in all of your communities across Canada.

Le NPD s’engage à investir 1,5 milliard de plus annuellement pour les infrastructures dans les municipalités.

À la fin d’un premier mandat, le transfert de la taxe sur l’essence dédié à l’infrastructure atteindra 3,7 milliards par année, créant du coup 23 000 emplois.

It will be predictable, dedicated funding to allow cities and communities to plan and invest long-term.

We’ll ensure that you have more flexibility in determining how to use these funds.

And we’ll remove funding barriers so that you can focus on building stronger hometowns instead of filling out forms.

The fact is, the gas tax transfer is one of the best tools available to help cities with their long-term needs.

That’s why Jack Layton pushed so hard for the gas tax transfer when he was FCM president.

And that’s why an NDP government will actually get it done.

Je crois que chaque ville canadienne devrait être dotée d’un système moderne de transport en commun pour déplacer les gens de façon efficace et abordable.

Il y a trop de municipalités où les autobus sont bondés, où les embouteillages se multiplient et les réseaux de métros n’arrivent pas à garder le pas avec la hausse de la population.

Les Canadiens passent en moyenne 32 journées de travail complètes à se déplacer entre la maison et leur lieu de travail.

Toutes ces heures auraient pu être passées en famille.

Et évidemment il y a des milliards de dollars en productivité perdue pour nos économies locales.

Le NPD s’engage à s’attaquer à ces problèmes, en commençant par un plan ambitieux d’investissement dans le transport en commun qui atteindra 1,3 milliard annuellement.

An NDP government will partner with cities by creating a new public transit strategy called the Better Transit Plan.

Working alongside the provinces and territories, this 20-year plan will invest $1.3 billion annually, that’s money for every municipality with transit needs.

It will be predictable, direct and transparent.

Funds will get out the door faster, with fewer strings attached, so you can get shovels in the ground faster.

That’s important because cutting gridlock helps businesses move their goods more efficiently, which is good for our economy.

And it helps all of us spend less time on the road and more time at home with friends and family.

Not only that, the Better Transit Plan will help spur a new era of jobs and investment in transit manufacturing.

Smart investments in transit are expected to increase Canada’s GDP by over $2-billion a year.

They’ll create more than 31,000 middle-class jobs in construction, manufacturing and transit operations.

And they’ll signal to every mayor and municipal leader across this country that an NDP government will be ready to do its fair share for transit.

Right across this country, Canada’s housing crunch is reaching crisis proportions.

In big cities like Vancouver and Toronto, middle-class families are being priced right out of their own housing market.

They look at the housing market and see prices so high that they simply can’t dream of owning their own home.

Meanwhile the wait list for affordable housing from coast-to-coast-to-coast keeps growing as rental housing units are scarce and unaffordable for hard-working Canadians.

Yet from 1989 to 2009, federal investments in affordable housing, as a share of our GDP, plummeted by a whopping 40 per cent.

In fact, it was the former Liberal government that killed the national housing strategy.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

In 2005, Jack Layton’s Better Balanced Budget invested over a billion dollars in affordable housing.

Now it’s time to take the next step.

An NDP government, as part of our renewed national housing strategy, will partner with cities by making long-term, stable investments in affordable housing.

I’ve already promised that New Democrats will sustain investments in the social housing agreements that are set to expire over the next few decades.

We simply cannot allow the Conservatives to create a housing crisis in Canada by allowing agreements to expire and funding to disappear.

Today I’m announcing that we’ll also work with the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation to provide incentives for the construction of affordable and market rental housing units.

That will create 10,000 new rental units over the next decade.

I believe, New Democrats believe, that affordable housing is a right.

That's just a beginning.

You'll be hearing more from New Democrats about housing in the weeks and months to come.

And finally, as I announced earlier this year, we will appoint a Minister for Urban Affairs to ensure that there is prudent coordination and that the partnership between Ottawa and the municipalities is strong and successful for years to come.

For decades, municipalities have been at the forefront of innovation.

Here in Edmonton, the city currently uses innovative technologies to divert 90% of residential waste from landfills.

I was in Rivière-du-loup where I saw an incredible new methanization plant with innovative technology that could only have been dreamed about a generation ago.

These are remarkable achievements and the NDP will be a federal partner to create the next generation of municipal environmental leaders.

En tant qu’ancien ministre de l’Environnement du Québec, le développement durable et les changements climatiques sont pour moi des vrais priorités.

C’est pourquoi, lorsque j’étais ministre, j’ai écrit la Loi québécoise sur le développement durable, qui demeure à ce jour l’une des plus exhaustives et avant-gardistes en Amérique du Nord.

I understand that municipalities are on the front-lines in the battle against climate change.

That’s why, in the coming months, I’ll lay out how an NDP government work to ensure that cities and communities have the tools they need for a more sustainable future.

You know, 50 years from now, our generation will have to answer for what we did, or didn’t do, to fight climate change.

The work of the FCM is truly impressive.

Our party is committed to working together with you to do even more.

Over the past few months, New Democrats have announced some of our concrete proposals to reverse the damage Stephen Harper has done and get Canada on track.

We’ll lower the small business tax rate from 11 to 9 percent to support businesses that are the backbone of our local communities and that create 80 percent of new jobs.

We know that middle-class families deserve a break and an NDP government will create one million, 15-dollar-a-day childcare spaces.

It’s also no wonder the Conservative plan to impose community mailboxes is facing vigorous municipal opposition as it would negatively affecting millions of Canadians in your cities and towns.

The NDP has made a solemn commitment:

We will restore door-to-door mail delivery to all those who have lost this service under the Conservative government.

The measures I’ve outlined today don’t just improve the quality of life in our communities they help businesses grow and prosper.

They help Canada grow and prosper.

Every day I meet with business owners who tell me what they really need are liveable cities that attract talent and help grow the economy.

That means shorter commute times.

It means affordable places to live, rural roads that are well-maintained, bridges that are safe, and less congested streets.

These are the investments that Canada’s cities need.

These are the investments that Canada’s businesses need.

And together we will get the job done.

My friends, in a few short months, Canadians will go to the polls to decide which party, and which leader, has the best vision for Canada.

Municipal leaders across the country, along with millions of Canadians, are looking for change in Ottawa.

That change is just an election away.

I’m proud of the strong historical partnership that New Democrats have with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

FCM has spoken loud and clear about your priorities for the future.

And New Democrats have listened.

So let’s continue to work together because together we can build a better Canada for all.

Thank you. Merci beaucoup.

On continue.