The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is providing up to $4-billion in urgently needed one-time assistance to Ontario’s 444 municipalities.
Provincial officials say this funding will help local governments maintain the critical services people rely on every day, including public transit, over the next six to eight months.
Details on specific allocations will be provided in the coming weeks.
This funding is part of the province’s made-in-Ontario plan for renewal, growth and economic recovery.
The announcement was made on Monday, July 27, 2020 by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation.
“By working together, we have united the country in the face of the immense challenges brought on by COVID-19 and secured a historic deal with the federal government to ensure a strong recovery for Ontario and for Canada,” Premier Ford said in a media release.
“I want to thank Ontario’s 444 local leaders who supported us through our negotiations with the federal government and through each stage of reopening. We will continue to be a champion for our municipal partners as they safely reopen their communities and ensure people can get back to work.”
Provincial officials say Premier Ford worked collaboratively with municipal partners, fellow Premiers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to reach this “historic agreement”, which includes $777-million from the federal government and $1.22 billion from the province in support for municipalities.
Ontario will continue to work closely with its municipal partners to ensure this funding provides the support they need to address budget shortfalls related to COVID-19, Provincial officials added.
“Ontario’s municipalities are the backbone of our great province,” stated Minister Clark in a press release.
“Our government is committed to working hand in hand with our municipal partners to help them emerge stronger and enable them to lead economic recovery in every community. And the funding we are announcing today will play a critical role in that.”
Minister Phillips said Ontario municipalities told the province they are dealing with a $4-billion shortfall as a result of COVID-19.
“Failing to act could result in cuts to services and higher taxes,” Minister Phillips said in a press release.
“That’s why, under Premier Ford’s leadership, Ontario was a strong advocate at the negotiating table to ensure municipalities and transit systems were supported as part of the Safe Restart Agreement. This is a historic level of support that’s being provided during unprecedented times.”
A deal for public transit funding was also secured as part of the federal-provincial agreement, Provincial officials say.
Up to $2-billion will be shared equally between Ontario and the federal government.
Transit operators that have seen steep declines in revenues will receive the support they need to help address the financial impacts of COVID-19 and continue their operations in a safe manner.
“Transit operators across Ontario have done an incredible job ensuring that people who need to get around, including our frontline workers, have safe and reliable transit service during the outbreak,” stated Minister Mulroney, in a media release.
“This funding will help ensure transit services continue to be there so people can get where they need to go as our province reopens and people return to work.”
Provincial officials say the Safe Restart Agreement will help ensure a strong and safe recovery for Ontario through investments in testing, contact tracing and data management; health care capacity and mental health; protecting vulnerable populations, including people experiencing homelessness and seniors in long-term care facilities; securing personal protective equipment (PPE); child care for returning workers; and support for municipalities and public transit systems.