Ontario extends pandemic support to municipalities

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TORONTO – The Ontario government is providing an additional $500 million to help the province’s 444 municipalities address ongoing COVID-19 operating costs. The new financial relief will help ensure the delivery of critical services and keep capital projects on track.

“Our government continues to adapt and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as it evolves, and we know our municipal partners are on the front lines of this effort, providing the critical services people depend on every day,” said Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing. “Our municipalities have been clear that they need ongoing operating funding in 2021 and it’s important that we step up and provide more financial relief. At the same time, we need the federal government to join us and provide our municipal partners with the additional support they deserve.”

A government press release stated municipalities facing the worst impacts of COVID-19 will receive priority and each municipality can identify how best to use the funds to ease pandemic-related operating pressures.

Each municipality will get an amount based on Municipal Property Assessment Corporation household data, plus an amount based on the proportion of provincial COVID-19 cases from January 1 to February 18 in the municipality’s respective public health unit.

On Manitoulin, that means municipalities will receive the following sums: Northeast Town, $66,935; Central Manitoulin, $54,154; Killarney, $35,404; Assiginack, $33,921; Billings, $31,218; Gordon/Barrie Island, $30,455; Gore Bay, $24,701; Tehkummah, $23,523; Burpee and Mills, $22,673; Dawson, $21,670 and Cockburn Island, $17,071.

The base funding amount appears to be $9,000, which went to 14 municipalities. Toronto took in the most funding, with a total of $164,006,045.

Municipalities have already received $1.39 billion through the joint federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement. The second phase of that agreement was given to all Ontario municipalities in December to ensure that no community ended 2020 with an operating deficit.

“This additional $500 million for 2021 builds on a record of provincial government support under the 2020 Safe Restart Agreement and the life-saving Social Services Relief Fund,” said Graydon Smith, president of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario. “It will help offset the impact of COVID-19 on 2021 municipal budgets in every part of Ontario. By protecting the municipal services people and business rely on most and preventing delays in capital projects, this funding is an important investment in Ontario’s economic recovery.”

Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy, who also serves as president of the treasury board, said municipalities are important partners in reducing the spread of COVID-19.

“We know the global pandemic has created significant financial challenges for communities across the province,” he said. “I encourage our federal partners to step forward with additional investments as all three governments work together to protect people’s health and jobs.”