At a time when economic borders are collapsing and economies are increasingly built on ideas and innovation, competition for talent is no longer simply between nations, but among cities.
So often we think of countries in terms of national boundaries, of their whole, not of their most fundamental element, the city. Cities are home to more than 80% of the Canadian population, and for many immigrants, they are the first stop. They are also the economic engines of our country. Cities are also a tourist destination: from the cobblestone streets of Old Montreal, the theatres of Toronto, Vancouver’s Chinatown, and the Citadel in Halifax.
As senators, we know the importance of looking ahead and ensuring that public policy is in place to help cities respond to the stresses of rapid urbanization. Municipal governments are faced with many issues that affect the quality of life of most Canadians: waste management, air and water quality, public safety and security, public transportation and public education, to name a few.
Challenges include the growing rate of urban poverty, lack of affordable housing, and the integration of immigrants and Aboriginal people. It must be our job to ensure these issues receive the attention they deserve from the federal government and that the long term sustainability of our largest urban centres is assured.
In the following information, you will not only see how our senators are raising current issues confronting Canadian cities, but how they are helping ensure their future prosperity.