Ontario pledges up to $4 billion to municipalities

TORONTO — The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, is providing up to $4 billion in one-time assistance to Ontario’s 444 municipalities.

In a press release, the province says the funding will help local governments struggling through pandemic-related financial impacts maintain the critical services people rely on every day, including public transit, over the next six to eight months.

Details on specific allocations will be provided in the coming weeks. This funding is part of the province’s plan for renewal, growth and economic recovery.

The announcement was made July 27 by Premier Doug Ford, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Finance Rod Phillips, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark and Minister of Transportation Caroline Mulroney.

“By working together, we have united the country in the face of the immense challenges brought on by COVID-19 and secured a historic deal with the federal government to ensure a strong recovery for Ontario and for Canada,” said Premier Ford.

“I want to thank Ontario’s 444 local leaders who supported us through our negotiations with the federal government and through each stage of reopening. We will continue to be a champion for our municipal partners as they safely reopen their communities and ensure people can get back to work.”

The press release states Ford worked corroboratively with municipal partners, fellow premiers, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland to reach this agreement, which includes $777 million from the federal government and $1.22 billion from the province in support for municipalities.

“Ontario’s municipalities are the backbone of our great province,” said Clark.

“Our government is committed to working hand in hand with our municipal partners to help them emerge stronger and enable them to lead economic recovery in every community. And the funding we are announcing today will play a critical role in that.”

“Ontario municipalities told us they are dealing with a $4 billion shortfall as a result of COVID-19,” said Phillips. “Failing to act could result in cuts to services and higher taxes. That’s why … Ontario was a strong advocate at the negotiating table to ensure municipalities and transit systems were supported as part of the Safe Restart Agreement. This is a historic level of support that’s being provided during unprecedented times.”

A deal for public transit funding was also secured as part of the federal-provincial agreement. Up to $2 billion will be shared equally between Ontario and the federal government. Transit operators that have seen steep declines in revenues will receive the support they need to help address the financial impacts of COVID-19 and continue their operations in a safe manner.

“Transit operators across Ontario have done an incredible job ensuring that people who need to get around, including our frontline workers, have safe and reliable transit service during the outbreak,” said Mulroney.

“This funding will help ensure transit services continue to be there so people can get where they need to go as our province reopens and people return to work.”