Municipalities in Ontario fighting to contain the spread of COVID-19 will be getting a major cash infusion from the province to spend on social services.
The province will provide $200 million in social services relief funding, the government announced Monday, and most of the new funding will go to municipalities, allowing them to "provide direct support to homeless shelters, food banks, [and] the local Red Cross."
The funding announcement comes ahead of Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaking at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. at Queen’s Park, alongside Social Services Minister Todd Smith and Finance Minister Rod Phillips.
“Our government will spare no expense to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians,” Ford said in a news release issued ahead of the news conference. “We are doing our part to show the Ontario spirit and we will make sure no one gets left behind.”
With companies across the province closing their doors during the pandemic and temporarily laying off staff the reliance on charities and social assistance is expected to grow.
Food banks say their shelves have been depleted faster than donations are coming in, leaving many charities concerned about being able to feed hungry Ontarians over the next few weeks.
In Ottawa, public health officials tapped the United Way to identify the social need emerging due to the province-wide state of emergency. The organization said help for seniors, mental health supports, and support for volunteers were among the top needs that will only continue to worsen.
The City of Toronto, meanwhile, has created a response table that will meet with 30 agencies on a daily basis to “identify new and emerging issues” affecting vulnerable residents during the public health emergency.
The provincial government projected to spend $17.2-billion on the ministry of Children, Community and Social Services in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, after originally cutting the budget by $1 billion.