The Ontario government is providing $18,681,919 to help the City of Hamilton address ongoing COVID-19-related operating costs. Today’s announcement is part of the province’s $500 million investment to help ensure the stability of Ontario’s 444 municipalities as they look forward to 2021. The funding is being prioritized to help municipalities hardest hit by the pandemic and can be used for things like personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and by-law enforcement.
Exiting surplus from COVID funding
It is not clear how this announcement will impact the surplus funds Hamilton reported in its budget deliberations earlier this week. Hamilton ended the 2020 year with $111 Million in unspent COVID relief funds, but some of that funding was set to expire at the end of this month. City finance officials were recommending the city lobby Queens Park to be allowed to carry forward the surplus to meet its COVID related needs for 2021.
In announcing Hamilton’s share, Flamborough-Glanbrook MPP Donna Skelly said, “I’m proud that our government is committed to providing stability for municipalities as they plan for the year ahead. This funding will give the City of Hamilton the confidence needed to continue providing critical local services while also proceeding with planned projects that will help drive our economic recovery.”
This round of provincial investment will be over and above $1.39 billion in operating funding that was provided to municipal partners through the joint federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement. The second phase of the Safe Restart Agreement was allocated to all Ontario municipalities in December, to ensure that no community entered 2021 facing an operating deficit from 2020.
“Municipalities are important partners in the fight against COVID-19,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board. “We know the global pandemic has created significant financial challenges for communities across the province. That’s why we have been there with support from the very beginning. I encourage our federal partners to step forward with additional investments as all three governments work together to protect people’s health and jobs.”