Toronto set to lose almost $2 billion by end of year due to coronavirus pandemic

Jul 14 2020, 4:47 pm

The City of Toronto is anticipating a $1.9 billion loss by the end of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even with mitigation strategies, including spending and workforce constraints, the city will still lose $1.35 billion.

Next week, city staff will be presenting the five-month variance report to the Executive Committee about the experienced and anticipated financial impact of the pandemic, and what mitigation options are available as Toronto begins to rebuild and recover its economy.

Mayor John Tory and Budget Chief Gary Crawford addressed the report on Tuesday morning, highlighting the $513.7 million in mitigation strategies the city is undertaking and stressing the need for emergency financial support for Toronto and other municipalities from the federal and provincial governments.

Since the pandemic began in mid-March, Toronto and other large Canadian municipalities have been experiencing significant financial impacts in the form of both added costs and revenue losses as a direct result of the pandemic.

“Municipalities are on the frontlines responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and have been since the beginning, just as we will be on the front lines of the recovery. But the fact remains that, while cities continue to respond to the pandemic, they are experiencing unprecedented costs and significant revenue losses,” Tory said.

“We remain hopeful a federal-provincial funding agreement to support municipalities can be reached to avoid devastating cuts to frontline services or unaffordable property tax increases. The city staff report released today makes clear the stark reality we are facing and the measures we have taken to save what we can.”

Mitigation strategies include $513.7 million in anticipated cost savings from a combination of workforce restraints, spending constraints and cost avoidance, including emergency layoffs, decreased TTC operating costs and matching service capacity to demand.

An additional $34.1 million is also available from “favourable” budget variance within Municipal Land Transfer Tax revenues from January 1 to March 31.

Tory and the city are engaging other orders of government and requesting relief funding from the federal and provincial governments to offset the cumulative financial impact on Toronto’s expenditures and revenues.

The city manager will be reporting to council later this month and again in September on further mitigation options that would need to be considered if municipalities do not receive adequate financial support from other levels of government.

In April, the city announced that it is experiencing financial pressure estimated at $65 million per week due to the pandemic.

Clarrie FeinsteinClarrie Feinstein

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