In announcing $150 Million in COVID emergency aid to Ontario cities, Premier Doug Ford made it clear that he expects Ottawa to bail Ontario cities out of their pandemic-related deficits. Hamilton alone is facing a deficit of up to $120 Million depending on the pace of recovery.
But with several large Ontario cities staring down shortfalls in the hundreds of millions or even $1.5 billion in Toronto’s case, Premier Ford’s message was Ottawa needs to “just cut us a cheque.”
“Just send us the money and it’s done,” For said. “There’s only so much capacity the municipalities have.”
So far, Ottawa has offered the provinces $14 billion combined to cover costs associated with reopening their respective economies, but there are strings attached. The money must be allocated into seven categories of spending developed by the Trudeau government.
Most premiers said last month that the money offered was not enough. Ford had earlier said Ontario alone needs $23 billion in federal assistance just to prevent drastic service cuts and to keep municipalities, who are legally prohibited from running deficits, afloat.
“We need a cheque – we’re going to follow the guidelines and make sure they’re allocated in the right areas but we’ve been saying this over and over again and all the premiers agree,” Ford said. “We need one thing – we need flexibility and we’ll work within their guidelines but we need the flexibility to put the money where it is needed.”
In addition to Toronto’s $1.5 Billion shortfall Mississauga will need about $60 Million and Ottawa is looking at a $200 Million hole in its budget.