Island municipalities receive over $1 million in Safe Restart funds

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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.

On Manitoulin, the Township of Assiginack will receive $104,800 in funding; Township of Billings, $89,800; Burpee and Mills Township, $42,500; Municipality of Central Manitoulin, $215,900; Township of Cockburn Island, $25,000; Dawson Township, $37,000; Municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island, $85,600; Town of Gore Bay, $53,700; Municipality of Killarney, $113,000; Town of Northeastern Manitoulin and the Islands, $266,900; and Township of Tehkummah, $47,200. 

“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, in a 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.” 

“Municipalities are on the front lines of a safe restart to our economy,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “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. 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.” 

This fall, 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.

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. 

At the Northeast Town council meeting last week, council passed a resolution to receive its $266,900 in Safe Restart funds.

CAO Dave Williamson noted that as the municipality is currently down $90,000 in revenue from a delay of payments for taxes and water and sewer, plus the additional costs of personal protective equipment, the funding was “great news for the municipality.” Mr. Williamson added that the funds can be applied to any COVID-19-related costs in 2021.

Councillor Barb Baker queried if uses for the funds could include interest on taxes and water non-payments and a lack of revenue from the town dock, rental of the corner at Worthington and Water streets (Anchor Inn patio), recreation centre rentals and the delay in the ice plant project.

Mr. Williamson said he would approach the province about all of this. “It’s all on the table.”

Councillor Bruce Wood suggested adding lost revenue from the Manitoulin East Municipal Airport to that list.