Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces up to $4 billion in funding for Ontario’s municipalities.
The lobbying and threat of closures and reduced services by many of Ontario’s municipal politicians has paid off – to the tune of $4 billion.
The funding includes $777 million from the federal government and $1.22 billion from the province in support for municipalities.
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 support to help address the financial impacts of COVID-19 and continue their operations in a safe manner.
The province and the feds are providing the cash injection as one-time assistance to Ontario’s 444 municipalities. The funding will help local governments maintain the critical services over the next six to eight months. Details on specific allocations will be provided in the coming weeks. The funding is part of the province’s made-in-Ontario plan for renewal, growth and economic recovery.
Niagara Regional Chair Jim Bradley said he welcomes the funding announcement and that, “the Niagara Region, in partnership with the 12 local area municipalities, have been working closely with the Association of Municipalities of Ontario and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to ensure the leadership in Ottawa and Toronto heard our concerns for financial relief.”
Chair Bradley went on to say that he remains hopeful Niagara will get its fair share of the funding. “While we await more details, we remain hopeful that Niagara will receive equitable treatment to ensure we will not have to make significant cuts to programs or services, or drastically increase taxes to make up for the COVID-19 financial shortfall.”
The Region sent a letter to provincial and federal leaders at the end of May seeking about $7.5 million in financial relief.
More recently a group of Niagara business owners delivered a letter and made a delegation to Regional Council offering to meet with elected officials to help come up with a plan to reign in public sector spending so that taxes won’t have to be significantly increased. The private sector has borne the vast majority of economic hardship and job loss during the pandemic and there have been calls in Niagara and across the province for the public sector to be more fiscally responsible and share some of the pain.
Yesterday’s funding announcement was made by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation.
“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.”
“Ontario’s municipalities are the backbone of our great province,” said Minister 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.”
The province has already supported Ontario’s municipalities providing about $350 million to support municipalities and social service providers such as shelters and food banks, as well as individuals receiving social assistance and those who are ineligible to receive federal support. In addition, Ontario invested $100 million to support extraordinary public health costs incurred in responding to the COVID-19 outbreak.