Increasingly, our cities and towns are being re-oriented to do business with the United States, instead of with other communities across Canada and Qub0065c. International and regional trade agreements are about strengthening already-powerful corporations. Public money is being used to encourage north-south integration, for example by building the so-called NAFTA highway to facilitate trade in goods between industrialized southern Ontario and the U.S.
Cuts to federal and provincial programs, downloading responsibilities to municipalities, declining infrastructure, loss of local control, static or falling revenues, privatization pressures, mergers and amalgamations are causing widespread and alarming changes in the places where we live and work.
The quality of life in our towns and cities is declining. Violence as a result of homelessness, racism and homophobia is on the rise. There has been an alarming increase in youth suicides in Aboriginal communities. There is a desperate shortage of adequate housing in many cities. Utilities need upgrading in many communities. Cuts have been made to waste management, family services, libraries and recreation services. Schools are being closed and the ones that remain are overcrowded. Theres inadequate access to emergency health services, and not enough public transit.
Privatization through unregulated land use (including urban sprawl) has had serious negative impacts on the economy, environment and society. It is a bad use of land. Market-driven sprawl destroys communities; it drains resources and contributes to increased dependence on cars. This undermines efforts to improve air and water quality, and conserve energy, and puts pressure on public transportation systems.
Rural towns are also struggling to maintain services. There is tremendous pressure to do more with fewer and fewer resources. Those who live in rural areas either go without, or have to travel long distances to get essential services. Jobs are scarce and youth are often forced to leave the community to find work elsewhere.
This decline is not inevitable. We can successfully resist privatization and loss of services, and mobilize to improve our quality of life.