On Thursday afternoon, Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford announced that his government will be giving cities another $150 million to help increase shelter capacity however says any major rescue packages will need funding from the federal government.
The newly announced $150 million to Ontario’s Social Service Relief Program will bring the province’s total COVID-19 financial support spending to $350 million since the pandemic began.
Through the Social Service Relief Program, cities will be able to use the money to increase shelter capacity and develop new programs aimed at helping the disabled or under-housed.
However, several larger cities in Ontario expressed that they are facing shortfalls in funding with many cities saying they are short in the hundreds of millions of dollars or Toronto’s case $1.5 billion short.
Commenting on the situation Premier Ford told these cities that Ottawa (the federal government) needs to send the province a Cheque and he will do the rest in terms of distributing the funding to cities in need.
“Just send us the money and it’s done,” said the Ontario Premier. “There’s only so much capacity the municipalities have.”0g their respective economies.
The only catch is that the money must be allocated into seven categories of spending that was developed by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s federal government.
Despite the $14 billion in funding that was announced for the provinces and territories, most premiers are saying that the money offered was simply not enough.
Premier Doug Ford told reporters during his daily announcements today that Ontario alone would need upwards of $23 billion in funding from the federal government just to prevent drastic service cuts and keep city municipalities afloat amid the pandemic.
The Premier also stated that different cities have different needs which is part of the reason why the province needs $23 billion in federal assistance.
“If you talk to Toronto – they need a big chunk of it in transit,” said Premier Ford.
Toronto’s Mayor, John Tory even went as far as outlining some services that he would need to cut in the Fall of 2020 to keep the city’s operating budget balanced.
In his worst-case scenario, Mayor John Tory said the city would need to shutter entire subway lines, close libraries, and lay off hundreds of police without assistance.
On the other hand, it was reported that officials in Mississauga during April said the city was facing a $60 million deficit due to the challenges created by COVID-19.
Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the deficit for the 2020 year is quickly approaching the $200 million mark.
As such, many of Ontario’s Mayors have been pressing the matter to the provincial government at Queen’s Park and Ottawa to try and get some sort of answer and assistance.
In response, Premier Doug Ford had this to say to the cities:
“We need a cheque – we’re going to follow the guidelines and make sure they’re allocated in the right areas but we’ve been saying this over and over again and all the premiers agree,” said Premier Doug Ford.
“We need one thing – we need flexibility and we’ll work within their guidelines but we need the flexibility to put the money where it is needed.”
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