TORONTO — The Ontario government is allocating an additional $695 million to provide financial relief for municipalities and help ensure they do not carry operating deficits into 2021. This investment builds upon the first phase of the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement announced this summer and will help municipal partners deliver critical services during COVID-19.
“This joint funding will help Ontario’s municipalities recover from the impacts of COVID-19 faster, by helping them to enter into 2021 without operating deficits from this year,” said Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing. “By ensuring our municipal partners are in a sound financial position to begin the new year, they can focus on keeping their capital projects on track while continuing to provide the critical services their residents rely on.”
Of the $695 million announced today, $299 million is being allocated across all 444 municipalities to help provide more financial relief, as 2021 operating budgets are finalized. An additional $396 million is also being allocated to 48 municipalities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and have demonstrated a need for additional assistance in covering their 2020 operating deficits. This is in addition to funding being provided to municipalities to help with local transit pressures.
Ontario issued letters to municipalities today about the next stages of transit funding for the Safe Restart Agreement. The province is notionally allocating $1.3 billion for municipal transit systems. This is in addition to the $700 million allocation under Phase 1 of the Safe Restart Agreement, which included needs-based top-ups. Further details about this funding will be available in January.
Impact on City of Thunder Bay
Linda Evans, the General Manager-Corporate Services & Long Term Care and City Treasurer says, “This morning’s announcement comes as we make final updates to the proposed 2021 Budget that will be provided to Council later this month and will be available to the public on January 5th. Certainly welcomed news as this additional $1.24million will help the City address the estimated $9M COVID-19 impact in 2021.
“This new $1.24 million for 2021 combined with the estimated $3.4 million 2020 Federal-Provincial Safe Restart funding forecasted to be available for use next year reduces the amount of COVID-19 costs that will need to be managed in 2021.
“Ahead of budget deliberations, Council will be provided with one-time budget reduction options along with the use of the Stabilization reserve fund to cover the remaining 2021 COVID-19 impact. This will ensure that costs associated with COVID-19 do not impact the 2021 tax levy as directed by City Council”.
“The funding confirmed today will ensure the City of Toronto can continue vital services — services that are needed more than ever during the COVID-19 pandemic. It shows the difference that can be made when all governments come together with a commitment to saving lives, protecting the health of our residents, and doing everything we can to help people and businesses get through this crisis,” said John Tory, Mayor of the City of Toronto.
“This funding will ensure municipalities in every part of Ontario are in a better position to maintain vital municipal services in 2021 and to proceed with capital investments essential to Ontario’s economic recovery,” said Graydon Smith, President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario.
Today’s announcement will help municipalities to develop 2021 budgets that reflect the reality of COVID-19 in their communities and give them the confidence they need to proceed with capital projects that will help drive economic growth.
“Our government’s top priority is the health and safety of Canadians. That’s why we provided over $5 billion to support Ontario safely restart the economy and help make our province more resilient through this second wave. We’re proud to see today’s second stream of funding make its way to Ontario municipalities, so that they can continue to deliver the essential services that Canadians rely on every day,” said Adam Vaughan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Families, Children and Social Development.