Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic, along with other big-city mayors in the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ (FCM) Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC), met Monday with the Deputy Prime Minister and other key Ministers to discuss a variety of critical issues ahead of the 2022 Federal Budget, including the need for bold federal action to tackle the affordable housing crisis, stronger support for mental health and addiction issues, and federal support to cover anticipated 2022 public transit revenue shortfalls.

“As we begin to look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic and a more inclusive recovery, housing affordability is the single greatest issue impacting so many people in Kitchener and across Canada,” said City of Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic.  “The City of Kitchener, through our Housing For All strategy, is committed to housing as a human right.  Ending chronic homelessness means scaling up successful programs like the Rapid Housing Initiative and other initiatives with long-term, predictable funding.  We are ready to do our part by working with the region, other orders of government and other stakeholders such as the homebuilding industry and those that control capital, to work together towards creating affordable housing for all.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has also compounded mental health and addiction issues across Canada.  Tackling these complex issues will require continued all-of-government and cross-sector collaboration, which includes continuing to build more affordable housing as well as providing greater mental health treatment centres and wrap-around services.  Doing so will ensure people who are struggling get the health and rehabilitation services they need, instead of going in and out of the justice system and emergency rooms.  BCMC welcomes the federal government’s creation of a new portfolio for Mental Health and Addiction, and welcomed the opportunity to meet with Minister Carolyn Bennett for the first time in this new portfolio.  In many ways, mental health and addition challenges intersect with homelessness, and we welcome having another strong voice at the Cabinet table for these important issues.

“Mental health care is health care.  The prevention and treatment of mental health and addiction issues needs to be viewed in the same way as people who suffer physical injuries, like broken arms or trauma from car accidents. While mental health and addiction issues have been slowly de-stigmatized over the past number of years, much more still needs to be done.  Cities and businesses can’t thrive economically and socially if we don’t address the mental health and addiction challenges faced by some of our residents,” said Mayor Vrbanovic.

Maintaining public transit has been critical during the pandemic, particularly in supporting our essential workers to keep stores open and supply chains moving. For 2022 and into 2023, municipalities like the Region of Waterloo are once again faced with the prospect of covering the financial gaps by reducing service.  The BCMC discussed this critical issue with Ministers, emphasizing the need for federal support towards additional Safe Restart Funding, and especially COVID-driven transit revenue shortfalls.  Inaction will only have a negative impact on our residents and stall our economic recovery efforts because Canada’s cities are Canada’s future.


The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) unites more than 2,000 local governments at the national level, representing more than 90 per cent of Canadians in every province and territory. FCM’s Big City Mayors’ Caucus (BCMC) convenes the mayors of 22 major Canadian cities.

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For more information, please contact:

Paul Grivicic, Chief of Staff
City of Kitchener

Bethany Rowland, Director of Corporate Communications & Marketing
City of Kitchener