Thunder Bay Receives “Safe Restart” Funding from Senior Government

THUNDER BAY – Thunder Bay will receive nearly $9.4 million in Federal-Provincial ‘Safe Restart’ funding to assist with COVID-19 pressures, Mayor Bill Mauro announced today.

“This is incredibly welcome news and a huge relief for Thunder Bay taxpayers, given the many uncertainties they face as a result of COVID-19,” said Mayor Mauro. “I am pleased to advise we are receiving more than $6 million for general operating budget pressures and $3 million for transit for Phase 1 and we anticipate additional support in Phase 2.”

“On behalf of the taxpayers of Thunder Bay, I want to thank the federal and provincial governments for supporting us at this unprecedented time. As well, a huge thank you to all the municipal organizations that negotiated and advocated on our behalf. They were vigilant in bringing attention to the very significant budget pressures facing cities and towns across Canada as a result of the pandemic. We truly are working together for everyone’s benefit.”

These organizations include MARCO (Mayors and Regional Chairs of Ontario), Ontario’s Big City Mayors, the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.

The Mayor says that the City will be looking at transit levels of service, and making determinations on routes and possible expanded routes.

Mayor Mauro was focused on the funding announcement today and defered questions on the Indoor Turf Facility, support for local small business and other issues not directly related to the funding under the “Safe Restart”.

Funding for General Operations

Phase 1 of this funding is allocated on a per household basis and the City of Thunder Bay will receive a payment of $6,191,300 to support our COVID-19 operating costs and pressures. If the amount of the funding exceeds our 2020 COVID-19 operating costs and pressures, the province expects the municipality will place the excess funding into reserves to be accessed to support 2021 COVID-19 operating costs and pressures. We must report back with 2020 details by March 2021.

Funding for Transit Operations

The City of Thunder Bay will receive a further $3,184,760 to support our COVID-19 pressures for Phase 1, incurred from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. We are required to report back to the province by October 30, 2020, with details on the use of the Phase 1 funds and a forecast of eligible expenditures to March 31, 2021. If the amount of funding allocated in Phase 1 exceeds the Recipient’s COVID-19 municipal transit pressures, the province’s expectation is that the Recipient will place the excess funding into a reserve account to support Phase 2 COVID-19 pressures the Recipient may continue to incur up to March 31, 2021.

Administration to Revisit Budget Directions

“As we continue to reopen the facilities and services that residents rely upon, we will continue to be vigilant and follow our reopening principles,” commented City Manager Norm Gale. “We will continue to be careful, thoughtful and fiscally responsible – and bring service level changes to City Council for its consideration.”

In a press release the COTB states: “Administration is guided by the principles of ‘Safety First’ (for public and employees, as informed by public health professionals); ‘Value for Money’ (reopening programs and services that deliver the highest value at best cost or adjust services to support cost containment); and ‘Create Opportunity’ (innovative ways to serve the community and support economic recovery.”

Linda Evans, City Treasurer and General Manager – Corporate Services & Long Term Care, says, “Administration will revisit its 2021 budget directions report that will come to City Council on Aug. 24, to evaluate the full impact of this funding announcement.”