A new normal: What’s next for Canada’s cities post election?

In this CityTalk, we explored what’s next for cities across Canada post election.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of better, but let’s strive for perfect” – Mayor Mike Savage

The impacts of climate change are a huge issue that needs to be more of a priority in Canada.  According to Halifax Mayor Mike Savage, we must balance taking a realistic approach to climate solutions and pushing ourselves as much as we can. Halifax’s aims to be zero emissions by 2030.

2. Canada’s future is depending on indigenomics

Carol Anne Hilton, Chief Executive Officer at Indigenomics Institute and Founder of the Global Center of Indigenomics, emphasizes that it is vital “for this country to shift gears and stop seeing Indigenous people solely as a cost or a burden to the fiscal system and start seeing generative Indigenous economies.”  Building an annual $100 billion Indigenous economy is very possible.

3. “Climate action really hits the ground in cities” – Merran Smith

One positive change after the election is the acknowledgment that climate change is a real issue.  Each party actually had a climate platform which is a significant step forward for Canada and the elected Liberal party has set ambitious goals for combatting climate change.  Commitments such as procuring low-carbon steel and concrete will provide cities with a path forward in making climate action real.  In moving towards renewable energy, new jobs will be created–now it is critical to ensure that the government commits to their worker transition strategy which includes training and transition opportunities.  Ms. Smith discusses the important role cities will have in successfully realizing the government’s climate change commitments and moving Canada forward towards a better and sustainable future.

4. “How we get better outcomes for people” – Chief Dale McFee

Edmonton Police Chief, Dale McFee reflects on the pandemic response and says, “we’re at a point right now where we can lead change that we’ve never led before”.  What we’ve lacked in the past is outcomes and that is what the focus should be on now.  One major problem he sees is that Indigenous people are overrepresented in the justice system and this is because Canada hasn’t built a system to fix the problems rooted in trauma and systemic racism.  It’s essential that our federal government finds ways to give Indigenous people and all people in need a real opportunity to succeed in our society.  Chief McFee says, we can save $1.5 billion dollars by reducing the number of people in the justice system by 20 percent.  Fostering individual independence instead of dependence on the system is the way forward along with dedicating budget towards helping communities in need and investing in their well-being.  The importance now should be put on “reduc[ing] intake and mak[ing] sure every offramp works”.

5. Calls to action for the newly elected federal government.

The panelists identified the main interventions that should be a priority for our new government.  Merran Smith though that what Canada really needs is quick and decisive action in realizing climate change commitments, policies, and regulations.  She went on to say that we need to “stop the bickering between us because it slows us down …, perfect is the enemy of the good. And we have no time.” Mayor Savage discussed how crucial it is to take real steps towards bringing people out of poverty and giving them an opportunity to succeed.  All orders of government need to work together in building functional and sustainable solutions for Canadians in need including national housing and homelessness strategies.  Chief McFee thinks the focus should be on a continuum of services that can help all Canadians in need.  Finally, Carol Anne Hilton believes the government’s main priorities should be to implement the truth and reconciliation calls to action and structuring Canadian affairs to allow for Indigenous economic growth and design.