During his daily national address, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government plans to offer cities an advanced transfer of $2.2 billion in infrastructure money to help with the budget issues caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The announcement comes after the reopening of several regions as the country begins to see it’s COVID-19 curve flattens.
The announced funding will be for the financial year of 2020-21 and will be sent through the federal Gas Tax Fund. A single payment will be made this month instead of the typical two annual payments.
This method will ultimately help reopening municipalities bounce back from the disruptions caused by the pandemic as quickly as possible according to the Canadian government’s online post made before the national address.
The previously mentioned Gas Tax Fund provides more than $2 billion a year for 3,600 communities in the country, with the amount of money being received varying per city.
This funding can be used towards projects classified under the proper categories, those categories including tourism, recreation, culture, and more.
In April, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities said that cities were amid serious financial pressure and were asking for financial assistance that equaled up to $15 billion in funds.
Much of the lost revenue for the cities came from the lowered transit usage and parking fares, as well as the new costs for setting up testing clinics and essential services.
When addressing the Canadian cities and their loss of revenue during this time, he said that it is “crucial” that cities have access to resources that will help their response to the pandemic and to evolve that response as communities begin to shift into a new reality born from the lockdown.
“We know how important our cities and towns are to the success of Canadians, and the success of our country’s economy,” Trudeau said to the media.
“That’s why we are working with the provinces on figuring out ways that municipalities can be helped”.
More help needed
Despite the announcement, major cities like Toronto will need more support.
According to Toronto Mayor John Tory, the money announced won’t help Toronto significantly, and the city will most likely still suffer from a huge loss.
Toronto is estimated to lose approximately $1.5 billion in revenue by the end of the year, and Tory says the city is likely to stay in the red when it comes to an economic recovery.
“We need to have new money to make up for the fact that we lost a lot of money we didn’t expect to lose,” Tory said.
“I’m not trying to diminish what they are doing today, which will help a bit. But we need a lot more help. They know that. It is crucial to the proper economic recovery of this country that cities should be healthy and not in a situation of financial instability”.
Ottawa’s Mayor Jim Watson called the announcement a “positive first step” but acknowledged the damage done to the city’s economy as “dramatic”.
“The City of Ottawa is facing losses of $1 million a day, and the provincial and federal governments need to step up with additional financial assistance,” Watson said through Twitter.
“Residents are counting on us to provide essential municipal services. Let’s work together in our recovery efforts”.
Canada COVID-19 Stats:
Confirmed Cases: 91,647
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