Mayor John Tory launched an economic support and recovery task force to help the city’s economy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Monday morning, the mayor outlined the necessity of creating this task force, as coronavirus is having a “devastating impact” on the livelihood of the city’s residents and businesses.
“These are unprecedented times and we must take unprecedented action to help our residents and our economy now and in the future,” the mayor said in a statement.
The Task Force will identify immediate and longer-term economic recovery strategies for residents and businesses, with a focus on supporting those segments of the economy most strongly impacted by the coronavirus, such as tourism, hospitality, and entertainment.
Starting this week, Tory will convene with representatives from the hospitality and film sectors and during the upcoming days, meetings will be held with faith and community leaders, Business Improvement Areas (BIAs), universities, social services and not-for-profits, organized labour, tech, and big business.
Over the weekend, the mayor reportedly worked with city finance and economic development staff to identify immediate measures the city can take.
The first is to extend a grace period for tax and other City of Toronto payments for businesses (payment and payment penalties) first for 30 days as of March 16.
The second, protecting city employees from layoffs this month due to the cancellation of city programs and paying for shifts that were planned for City-run daycares, museums, and recreation centres.
The third measure is establishing a substantial contingency fund to support businesses and affected groups, based on need.
The fourth action that will be taken is facilitating entry into the Employment Insurance (EI) System for those impacted by the pandemic. The city says they will “work with companies and employees to ensure they are fully aware of how to apply for their rights under employment insurance.”
And last, the city will be expanding small business advisory services to help businesses as they plan to recover from the impacts.
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The mayor is also asking the provincial and federal government to waive penalties for business owners who do not pay their HST on time.
“We will get through this pandemic by listening to our professional medical experts,” Tory said. “I’m confident we will get through the economic impact of this pandemic by listening to people and doing the smart, responsible things we can do to help them. I want every resident and every business in this city to know that your mayor and your City government have your back.”
Last week, the city launched another task force to provide increased medical and public health resources to tackle the coronavirus spread.