Ahead of federal spending update, cities make plea to Liberals for more housing cash


OTTAWA — The mayors of Canada’s biggest cities are asking the federal government to put more money in poverty-reduction measures to stamp out homelessness in their communities.

The group from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities is making the request today ahead of the Liberals’ promised update in the coming weeks on the state of federal finances.

In a statement, the mayors say there is an opportunity now to tackle homelessness by scaling up a rapid-housing program the Liberals unveiled earlier this fall.

Some of the country’s biggest cities will split half the $1 billion pledged for the program that would allow housing providers to purchase properties on the market that could be quickly converted into affordable housing units.

Mayors of those cities say the measures could help as the country tries to recover economically from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cities are also asking for help with their own budgets that have been stretched by the pandemic, threatening cuts to public services to balance the books.