Ontario Providing $695 Million to Municipalities to Cover More Pandemic Costs

Ontario’s financially troubled communities will receive an additional $695 million to help cover pandemic-related costs, the province’s municipal affairs minister said on Wednesday.

The grant is part of a “Safe Restart” agreement reached between Ottawa and the provinces earlier this year to help address the pandemic costs.

Municipal Affairs Minister Steve Clark said $399 million of the new funding will be provided to 48 of the hardest-hit municipalities, while the remaining $299 million will be split amongst all 444 communities in the province.

“This additional funding will provide municipalities with more certainty, as they plan their 2021 budgets to reflect the reality of COVID-19 in their communities and allow them to start 2021 in a better financial position,” he said.

Ontario city leaders have called for additional funding in recent weeks to help avoid a capital deficit that is not authorized by law.

Toronto Mayor John Tory said the grant will be of great help as they continue to budget to operate in 2021.

Clark said the province is continuing to negotiate with the federal government and communities on pandemic costs over the coming months.

“But suffice it to say, we’ll be there for municipalities,” he said.

Last week, the province’s Financial Accountability Officer said the pandemic will cost Ontario municipalities $6.8 billion over two years.

Peter Weltman also warned that while the Safe Restart agreement provided $4 billion in relief, a $2.4-billion shortfall exists for the coming year.

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