TORONTO — The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is delivering on its commitment to provide up to $4 billion in urgently needed one-time assistance to Ontario’s 444 municipalities. Municipalities will be provided with up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of emergency funding under the Safe Restart Agreement. 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 address operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic through the 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 today 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,” said Premier Ford. “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.”
“Municipalities are on the front lines of a safe restart to our 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,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “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 Fall 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. 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. 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,” said Associate Minister Surma. “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. This investment can help them protect homeless shelter staff and residents, expand rent support programming and create longer-term housing solutions. 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.