Brampton Board of Trade
| 5 minutes

Seizing the Opportunity to Advocate as a Region: A Letter to Mayor Parrish

Dear Mayor Parrish,

The Brampton Board of Trade would like to formally congratulate you on becoming the new mayor of Mississauga. Your swearing-in took place the same evening as our State of the Region luncheon which was fitting given our discussion on the future of our region, the challenges we need to address, and how the three municipalities can demonstrate greater regional unity in our shared advocacy. The luncheon saw about 200 attendees from various industries, community groups, and government offices from all three municipalities, and featured a keynote speech from Regional Chair Nando Iannicca and a fireside chat with CAO Gary Kent. 

There has been a tense relationship between our two cities over the past year due to regional dissolution talks. But given your history with both Mayor Brown and Mayor Groves, there is an opportunity to renew cooperation between the three municipalities. As we await the recommendations from the transition board, and keeping in mind the discussions that took place during State of the Region, we’ve identified several key areas where we can ensure alignment:

More Funding for Social Services

At your swearing in ceremony, you cited that it would require $86 billion phased over three years to get Peel Region on par to other regions with respect to social services. Additionally, a recent report presented to Peel Regional Council highlighted an annual shortfall of $868 million in provincial community service funding, amounting to a gap of $578 per person in Mississauga, Brampton, and Caledon.

The analysis by Blueprint ADE underscored the strain on municipal services such as housing, childcare, schools, seniors’ care, and non-profit services like mental health support and youth programs. This financial burden has forced our municipalities to reallocate $138 per person annually from property taxes to cover the shortfall.  

Ensuring that Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon have the resources to deliver good social outcomes, particularly as the shelter system sees 400% capacity, is critical. As a unified voice, we must advocate for more public funding from the province for social services in the region. Peel ratepayers and municipal taxpayers have felt the burden of the shortfall for far too long.

More Funding for Instructure to Meet Populations Demands

Peel Region, home to 1.5 million residents, is the second-largest population center in Ontario, after Toronto.  Mississauga and Brampton are two of the most populous cities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), yet the limited revenues from property taxes and development charges (the latter of which is deleterious to our efforts in tackling the housing crisis) is insufficient to meet growing infrastructure needs. Caledon has also seen some of the fastest growth in the province, with the population increasing 15.2% from 2016 to 2021 compared to the provincial average of 5.8%. The Brampton Board of Trade welcomes the province’s extension of the Strong Mayor powers but emphasizes the need for new financial agreements to support sustainable growth.

Given our size and importance to the province, there is an opportunity to urge the provincial government to replicate Toronto’s ‘new deal’ and negotiate new financial agreements to address growing costs in the region. In late 2023, Ontario and Toronto signed a deal which saw the province take control of the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway, saving Toronto billions in capital costs. In March 2024, Ottawa saw a similar agreement which saw $543 million in operating and capital funding. Peel Region’s deal is long overdue.

Enhancing Intra-Regional Transit

Peel Region boasts significant transportation infrastructure, including five major highways, several international railroads, and Toronto Pearson International Airport. However, 63% of Peel residents commute within the region, with 74% of these folks relying on personal vehicles. The Hazel McCallion LRT and the loop benefits the entire region by facilitating the movement of people between Brampton and Mississauga. However, we also need major upgrades to ensure our transit systems are truly intra-regional.

With Brampton Transit’s ridership increasing dramatically, better integration of intra-regional transit, particularly to GO stations in Brampton and Mississauga, can provide commuters with more optionality in their travels. More bus rapid transit, LRTs, and last mile supports between Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon are important, especially given Caledon’s rapid growth. Given that so many of Brampton’s residents commute to Mississauga for work, better intra-regional transit benefits Mississauga’s employers.  

Workforce Development 

With 18% of Ontario’s immigrant population living in Peel, we must ensure that newcomer populations are given the right opportunities to succeed and meaningfully contribute to the economy through gainful employment. A shared concern among all three of our municipalities is the need for better access to high quality labour. This is the primary complaint among employers in our region. Additionally, given our infrastructure needs and housing targets, we must ensure that we have the labour to realize these goals. Shared advocacy for labour and workforce development is crucial.  

With more than 20 colleges and universities in the Peel Region, and more on the way, notably with TMU’s School of Medicine, there is an opportunity to collaborate with our region’s educational institutions, both public and private. This collaboration can drive the essential skills development needed to meet workforce demands, especially as the province focuses on programs in high-demand sectors like skilled trades, health and human resources, STEM, hospitality, and childcare.

Unified Regional Advocacy

Peel Region is one of the most populous and diverse regions in the country with 69% of people in Peel identifying with a racialized group — the highest in the GTA. There is also frequent collaboration among our regional councillors. With our economic significance as a transportation and logistics corridor, and representing over 200,000 businesses and growing, we can harness our collective power to ensure the provincial and federal governments support our residents.

The future of Peel Region lies in strong regional cooperation. By aligning our advocacy efforts and leveraging our collective strength, Brampton, Mississauga, and Caledon can address shared challenges, secure fair funding, and enhance the quality of life for all residents.  

The Brampton Board of Trade extends an invitation to you, Mayor Brown, and Mayor Groves to join the business community and other regional stakeholders in developing a regional advocacy strategy on the topics discussed. As you transition into your new role and reflect on the discussions from the State of the Region, there is significant momentum to capitalize on as we work towards building solutions to complex problems that affect us all. Together, we can create a brighter and more unified future for our region.

Congratulations once again on your new role. 

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