WELLAND – Official Opposition NDP Municipal Affairs critic Jeff Burch has released a statement after the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) published a new report revealing that the COVID-19 pandemic will cost municipalities $6.8 billion over two years. The report also reveals that the Ford government has so far allocated only $2 billion of $4 billion in federal-provincial Safe Restart Funding, and the FAO says $700 million of this will never be allocated.
“Municipalities are in dire financial straits as a result of COVID-19, and they need a provincial partner to save them from having to consider devastating service cuts.
So far, Doug Ford has done the opposite. He’s been withholding COVID funding, including $2 billion from the federal government that was earmarked specifically for municipalities.
Local governments are at the forefront of this pandemic, including enforcing by-laws and provincial orders, overseeing municipal long-term care homes, and funding local public health units which are leading the charge to test and trace cases and to contain local outbreaks.
This report reveals a $2.4 billion black hole in municipal budgets. Cities and towns throughout the province are on the verge of devastating cuts if the Ford Government does not step up and provide funding to municipalities.
Municipalities are not able to run deficits, by law. So without emergency provincial funding, the financial burden of COVID-19 will force them to make deep cuts to the services families count on — like public health, transit, child care, policing, social service agencies, and city infrastructure. Local governments are cutting their operations and service delivery to the bone, and laying off highly-skilled municipal workers.
Municipalities have risen to the challenge of fighting this virus in their communities. Doug Ford needs to stop pinching pennies and stop sitting on COVID money — instead, he needs to commit today to fill the black hole COVID has left in municipal budgets.”