Ontario Premier Doug Ford said that the province will provide up to $1.6 billion to municipalities in a first round of emergency funding.
And as part of the Safe Restart Agreement with the federal government, up to $2 billion is being provided to support public transit in Ontario.
“Municipalities need certainty and flexibility,” Ford said on Wednesday during the daily press briefing.
There will be a total of $4 billion in “urgently needed one-time assistance” for Ontario’s cities.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have had the backs of our municipalities, which is why we are announcing up to $1.6 billion in critical funding today to help strengthen our communities and safely restart our economy,” said Ford.
“This first round of funding will address the most urgent needs of our communities, ensuring critical services like transit and shelters are there when people need them most.”
In the fall, Phase 1 funding will provide 444 municipalities with $695 million to help address municipal operating pressures related to the pandemic.
“This funding will be allocated on a per household basis and would be shared 50/50 between upper- and lower-tier municipalities,” the provincial statement adds.
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In this phase, $660 million will be provided to transit for the 110 municipalities that have transit systems.
“The funding can be used to provide immediate relief from transit pressures, such as lower ridership, as well as for new costs due to COVID-19, such as enhanced cleaning and masks for staff,” the province said.
And, up to $695 million in additional funding will be available through Phase 2 to eligible municipalities after they have provided the province with information on their estimated COVID-19-related financial pressures.
Ford also noted that Ontario is providing municipal service managers and Indigenous housing partners an additional $212 million under the Social Services Relief Fund to help protect vulnerable people from the virus.
On July 19, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that $19 billion will be given to provinces and territories for COVID-19 recovery, with Ontario receiving $7 billion.