The Municipality of Chatham-Kent is receiving $5,817,800 in funding to address operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, Provincial officials announced on Wednesday, August 12, 2020.
Overall, the Ontario government, in partnership with the Federal government, is providing municipalities $1.6-billion as part of the first round of emergency funding under the Safe Restart Agreement.
Provincial officials say this funding will help municipalities protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario, while continuing to deliver critical public services, such as public transit and shelters, as the province continues down the path of renewal, growth and economic recovery.
Through the Safe Restart Agreement with the federal government, $695-million will help municipalities with this first round of emergency funding, and over $660-million will support transit systems.
The province is also providing an additional $212-million through the Social Services Relief Fund to help vulnerable people find shelter.
The details were provided on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 by Premier Doug Ford, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Kinga Surma, Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA), and Jim McDonell, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have had the backs of our municipalities, which is why we are announcing up to $1.6-billion in critical funding today to help strengthen our communities and safely restart our economy,” stated Premier Ford in a press release.
“This first round of funding will address the most urgent needs of our communities, ensuring critical services like transit and shelters are there when people need them most.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said municipalities are “on the front lines” of a safe restart to the economy.
“That’s why we’re working with Ontario, and all the provinces and territories, to ensure communities have the support they need to help Canadians through the next phase of this crisis,” the Prime Minister said in a press release.
“Here in Ontario, this funding will allow municipalities to offer critical public services, like public transportation and shelters, while they help protect against potential future waves of the virus. Building a stronger and more resilient economy that works for everyone starts with keeping Canadians safe and healthy. Together, we will build on the progress we’ve made, and put Canadians first as we gradually and safely restart our economy.”
In the fall of 2020, Ontario’s 444 municipalities will receive $695-million in Phase 1 funding to help address municipal operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This funding will be allocated on a per household basis and would be shared 50/50 between upper and lower-tier municipalities.
Up to $695 million in additional funding will be available through Phase 2 to eligible municipalities after municipalities have provided the province with information on their estimated COVID-19 related financial pressures.
“The success of Ontario’s municipalities is vital to our province’s economic recovery,” said Parliamentary Assistant Jim McDonell. “We’ve been working in partnership with municipalities from day one to understand the financial impacts of COVID-19, and this historic agreement will ensure they have the funding needed to address their most urgent local priorities.”
In addition to the support for municipalities, the government is providing over $660-million in the first phase of transit funding to the 110 municipalities with transit systems, Provincial officials say.
The funding can be used to provide immediate relief from transit pressures, such as lower ridership, as well as for new costs due to COVID-19, such as enhanced cleaning and masks for staff.
In the second phase, additional allocations will be provided based on expenses incurred to ensure the funding meets the needs of municipalities, Provincial officials say.
As part of the Safe Restart Agreement with the federal government, up to $2-billion is being provided to support public transit in Ontario.
“Ontario’s public transit systems are critical to supporting the economy and getting people where they need to go as the province gradually reopens,” stated Associate Minister Surma in a press release.
“This historic agreement will help ensure that municipalities can continue to provide safe and reliable transit for the people of Ontario.”
Ontario is also providing municipal service managers and Indigenous housing partners with an additional $212-million under the Social Services Relief Fund to help protect vulnerable people from COVID-19, Provincial officials added.
This investment can help them protect homeless shelter staff and residents, expand rent support programming and create longer-term housing solutions, Provincial officials say.
This brings the government’s total Social Services Relief Fund investment provided to service managers and Indigenous program administrators to $510-million, and builds on the government’s COVID-19 Action Plan to Protect Vulnerable Ontarians.
The federal Safe Restart Agreement provides more than $19-billion to Canadian provinces and territories to help ensure a strong recovery and support frontline health care, families, and communities.
Across all streams of federal investment, the Safe Restart Agreement provides over $7-billion in funding and in-kind supports to Ontario.
Ontario makes $30-billion available in response to global pandemic
Provincial officials say Ontario’s investments bring the government’s COVID-19 response action plan to a projected $30-billion, up from $17-billion announced in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 on March 25, 2020.
“Dealing with COVID-19 wasn’t a choice for any of us, but how we responded was,” stated Minister Phillips, in a press release.
“From the very beginning, we chose to do whatever was necessary to protect the people of Ontario from this pandemic and support them as they deal with the unprecedented impact on their lives.”
Since announcing the first steps in the government’s response to the global pandemic, the government is making additional investments in the fight against COVID-19, including:
– An increase of $4.4 billion for a total of $7.7 billion to provide ongoing support for health care to build hospital capacity, prevent and contain the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care homes, ramp up testing and purchase personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies.
– An increase of $7.3 billion for a total of $11.0 billion to support people and jobs, which supports investments in a temporary pandemic pay for more than 375,000 eligible frontline workers totaling over $1.5 billion, $4 billion in targeted funding to help municipal partners and transit agencies to continue to deliver critical services, and temporary immediate relief for residential, farm, small business, industrial and commercial electricity consumers.
Provincial officials say the government is now projecting a deficit of $38.5-billion in 2020-21, which incorporates the most up to date economic information and additional supports for the pandemic recovery period and the safe restart framework.
Private-sector forecasts, on average, project that Ontario’s real GDP will decline by 6.6 per cent in 2020, down significantly from when the March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update was finalized.
Total revenue is projected to be $150.6 billion in 2020-21, $5.7 billion lower and program expenses are projected to be $13.1-billion higher than forecast in the March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update, Provincial officials added.
When announced in March, Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 contained historic levels of prudence and flexibility, including a dedicated $1-billion COVID-19 Health Contingency Fund, a $2-billion Support for People and Jobs Fund, a standard Contingency Fund of $1.3 billion and an unprecedented reserve of $2.5-billion, the largest in Ontario’s history.
Given the continued economic and health uncertainty, the government has included additional prudence totalling almost $9.6-billion to ensure the Province is prepared for future scenarios stemming from the ongoing uncertainty of COVID-19, Provincial officials say.
While no economic downturn is the same as the last, it took between 24 and 88 months to return to pre-recession peak employment across the last three recessions.
However, as Ontario gradually reopens, following the plan outlined in A Framework to Reopen Our Province, there have been recent signs of economic recovery, Provincial officials say.
In June and July, Ontario’s employment increased by 528,600 net jobs and the unemployment rate decreased to 11.3 per cent.
Home resales in the province rose 56.6 per cent in May and 67.0 per cent in June, after declining for two consecutive months.
Ontario manufacturing sales increased 17.5 per cent in May, while retail sales rose 14.2 per cent, after both declined for two consecutive months.
“From the outset, our government determined that putting public health first not only would save lives, but was the smartest economic policy,” stated Phillips.
“The faster and steadier the progress to contain the outbreak, the sooner restrictions can be lifted so customers can return to businesses and employees can get back to work. While we still have a long road to recovery, defeating the virus is essential to getting our economy growing again and to ensure the long-term sustainability of the public’s finances.”
The Province’s next fiscal update will be a multi-year provincial Budget, to be delivered no later than November 15, 2020, Provincial officials say.
Ontario was the first in Canada to release a fiscal outlook that reflected the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, Provincial officials say.