SUDBURY -- City of Greater Sudbury Mayor Brian Bigger hosted a meeting with the Mayor of North Bay Al McDonald, Mayor of Timmins George Pirie, Mayor of Sault St. Marie Christian Provenzano and Mayor of Thunder Bay Bill Mauro, earlier in the week.

Host Mayor Brian Bigger told CTV News it’s important to have these conversations.

"We regularly collaborate and try to improve the quality of life for people living in Northern Ontario," said Bigger.

"It’s our opportunity to kind of join forces and advocate to the higher levels of government."

Topics discussed at the meeting included:

  • The opioid crisis and related addictions support and infrastructure
  • Key initiatives to address the issue of homelessness
  • Information sharing on COVID-19
  • Advocating for public health funding to remain at current rates
  • Impacts of Bill C-75 (an Act to Amend the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and other Acts)
  • Advocating for the federal government to take a position on handguns, rather than leaving it up to individual municipalities

"While every community deals with its own issues, we also share common ground with our northern Ontario neighbours," said Bigger.  

"We are united on a number of issues that affect our entire region and these meetings are an excellent opportunity to share information and take collaborative action."

Of the five topics discussed North Bay Mayor Al McDonald said COVID-19 and the opioid crisis are what’s affecting the region the most.

"Covid and the opioid crisis are the two big ones that we are all facing and the ones we really want to work on. Covid, I think everyone is doing their job," said McDonald.

"The opioid crisis, there absolutely has to be more attention and it can’t just be municipal governments it has to be the province and federal government. It needs to be everyone working together."

The group will be providing letters to the province advocating for their position on homelessness and public health funding.

These meetings typically happen twice a year but Timmins Mayor George Pirie is in favour of them happening more often.

"We think the future of Ontario is here in the north so how do we work together so in fact that happens?" said Pirie.

"I’m always in favour of having more of these conversations whenever possible."