Ontario municipalities to get $4B in COVID-19 bail out
TORONTO -- Hard-hit Ontario municipalities will receive nearly $4 billion in funding from the federal and provincial governments to help shore up their finances in the wake of the pandemic-related shutdown.
Premier Doug Ford said the funding—$2.2 billion from Ontario and $1.7 billion from the federal government—will help support "homeless shelters, women's shelters, food banks, public health and transit."
"This funding will help restart our economy and come back stronger than ever before," Ford said during his daily news conference at Queen's Park.
Ontario's 444 municipalities have been pleading with the provincial and federal governments for a COVID-19 bailout package to help alleviate the pressures resulting from the pandemic.
Toronto, for example, calculated a $1.3 billion pandemic price tag as a result of increased social services and public health care costs, and a steep $700 million drop in TTC revenue as the city's workforce stayed home during the economic shutdown.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips acknowledged that without the $4 billion in support mayor had requested, municipalities would be forced to make drastic decisions.
"In our many conversations municipalities have told us that without relief people could experience cuts to services, and higher taxes," Phillips said.
While the Ford government didn't provide a breakdown on how much money each municipality would receive, Toronto Mayor John Tory said a "significant" amount of money would be given to Canada's largest city.
"We will get a significant amount of money and should go a long way toward [Toronto's] $1.3 billion problem," Tory said on Monday. "I'm hopeful that we can get the entire $1.3 billion.”
Tory acknowledged that Toronto might have to examine ways to fill the gaps if it doesn't receive 100 per cent of the budgetary shortfall, but did not provide details.
The funding is part of the $19 billion Safe Restart Agreement struck between the Trudeau government and Canada's provinces earlier this month after weeks of negotiations.
Ontario received $7 billion in funding which came with strict criteria on how the money was to be spend -- including public transit systems, childcare, health care, long-term care, contact tracing and securing personal protective equipment.
The province has yet to specify how the remainder of the federal funding -- $5 billion -- would be spent or when that announcement would be made.