John Tory is one of the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) mayors urging the province and federal government to provide financial support to individuals and groups like renters, tenants, and business owners.
According to a statement from Tory, municipalities are on the frontlines of fighting COVID-19 and will lead the economic restart and recovery.
During his daily press conference, the mayor said that Toronto is spending millions to fight the illness and losing hundreds of millions in revenue in total while providing vital services such as the TTC.
He called for support from Queens Park and the Government of Canada.
“It is critical and urgent for the provincial and federal governments to take action now to address the dire financial problems being faced by GTHA municipalities,” said Tory.
“We appreciate the urgent and necessary action provincial and federal governments have taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, in particular through providing direct financial support to individuals and groups across the board, including renters, tenants, small and large businesses, and services to vulnerable populations.”
At the press conference, Tory said that the city exists under provincial legislation and cannot budget for a deficit.
“As we look ahead to the restart and recovery phases, now is the time to ensure municipalities are not grappling with financial uncertainty,” Tory’s statement read.
“Given that our principal constitutional and practical relationship is with our provincial government, we are looking for Queen’s Park to immediately initiate substantive discussions with us, with other Ontario municipalities, and with the federal government to take action to alleviate these financial difficulties.”
Tory adds that “doing nothing for cities is simply not an option.”
“We have serious problems, they are problems affecting all GTHA municipalities and we simply cannot afford to have constitutional or intergovernmental wrangling standing in the way of these frontline municipal governments getting the help they need now.”
According to Tory, about 20% of the entire country’s GDP comes from the Toronto region.
“If municipalities are financially crippled we will not be able to play our leadership role in this recovery,” he said.
Tory added that a strong recovery will rely on strong GTHA municipalities delivering transit, delivering infrastructure projects, delivering child care, and continuing to deliver the public health response to the coronavirus.
“We need all governments to be united in supporting municipalities as quickly as possible,” he said. “Achieving this goal will begin with the Government of Ontario committing itself to providing assistance to the province’s municipalities and initiating discussions with us and with the Government of Canada.”
Earlier on Tuesday, the TTC said it is expected to lose almost $300 million by Labour Day, even as the transit commission makes staff and service cuts.
As of this afternoon, Toronto has 7,775 coronavirus cases in total.