Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that the federal government’s commitment of $14 billion to help provinces and territories in their safe economy restart “won’t cut it.”
On Friday, Ford said that the economic reality of the COVID-19 pandemic is “unprecedented” and “no province can get out of this alone.”
The premier revealed that the pandemic will cost the province a total of $23 billion to deal with the impacts of COVID-19.
The costs are tied to funding for protective personal equipment (PPE), supporting municipalities, helping the most vulnerable in long-term care homes, and childcare costs.
“In short, there is a massive need in Ontario,” Ford said.
He added the Province is ready to work with the federal counterparts and have a reciprocal relationship during these talks.
“For months we have shared these fears with our federal partners. We need them at the table,” Ford said.
“But $14 billion won’t solve the problem for all of Canada. It just won’t cut it.”
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While the premier did note that it was a “good start” Ontario’s is facing a significant loss in revenue of almost double than what the federal government is providing.
The premier also said that Ontario taxpayers provide $13 billion to the federal government each year, with the province not getting federal transfers back.
“We are asking for just a fair share of that money,” he said.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips said that Ontario needs to at least receive $10 to $15 billion to help fund services like public transit.
When looking at the TTC, it’s set to lose almost $300 million before Labour Day, even with service cuts.
The city is also projected to lose at least $1.5 billion over the course of the pandemic.
Mayor John Tory said that the gesture from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau represents a first move by the Government of Canada but it “cannot be the only news as it relates to cities.”
“For a number of weeks we have been urging the federal government to support cities and help them deal with the financial devastation caused by COVID-19,” Tory said in a statement. “Cities are on the frontlines of this emergency and we have stepped up to protect public health and save lives.”
For some time, the mayor has been advocating for city funding emphasizing that in order to have a strong economy come back, it starts with cities — Toronto accounts for 20% of the country’s GDP.
Tory added that the federal government’s funding is now in the hands of the province and Toronto is looking to the provincial government on what role it intends to play in the “partnership to help cities.”
He added that a failure on the part of the federal and provincial governments to come up with a total assistance package sufficient to offset most of the losses experienced from the pandemic will cause the City to impose “huge tax increases” or “huge service cuts” both of which are “unacceptable options.”
“We await next steps on all sides,” Tory said.
Earlier on Friday, Trudeau said that the federal government is prepared to commit $14 billion for provinces and territories to restart the economy safely.
The money will be to ensure businesses have PPE, childcare, and 10 days of paid sick leave.
According to the prime minister, the funds will be distributed through a safe-restart agreement between the federal government, and the provinces and territories.
Ford said that he is against paid sick days and would rather put the money into areas like long term care.
The details of the funding and how it will be distributed to cities still has to be finalized.