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 services and keep capital projects on track, stated a March 4 release. Construction stakeholders had advocated for the support to ensure municipalities did not have to tap into capital budgets for operating funds.
“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 Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark in the statement. “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.”
The funding is being allocated based on a combination of a base amount using Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) household data and an amount based on the proportion of provincial COVID-19 cases from Jan. 1, 2021 to Feb. 18, 2021 in each municipality’s respective Public Health Unit.
The provincial spending is in addition to the $1.39 billion in operating funding provided to municipalities through the joint federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement. The second phase of funding under the Safe Restart Agreement was allocated to all Ontario municipalities in December.
“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.”
The release noted that the government will provide its next update on Ontario’s finances in the 2021 Budget, to be delivered no later than March 31, 2021.