Ontario sending $1.6 billion to municipalities

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construction parliament hill
Parliament Hill construction (Raymond Levielle photo)

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, will provide municipalities with up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of emergency funding under the Safe Restart Agreement. Funding will help municipalities deliver critical 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.

“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.”

“Funding will allow municipalities to help protect residents “against potential future waves of the virus,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Building a stronger and more resilient economy that works for everyone starts with keeping Canadians safe and healthy.”

In Fall 2020, Ontario’s 444 municipalities will receive $695 million in Phase 1 funding to help address 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.

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.

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.

The federal Safe Restart Agreement provides more than $19 billion to Canadian provinces and territories to help ensure a strong recovery and support frontline health care, families, and communities. Across all streams of federal investment, the Safe Restart Agreement provides over $7 billion in funding and in-kind supports to Ontario.

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