The Ontario government will be giving municipalities up to $1.6 billion as part of the first round of emergency funding under the Safe Restart Agreement, according to a press release issued on Wednesday.
"Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have had the backs of our municipalities, which is why we are announcing up to $1.6 billion in critical funding today to help strengthen our communities and safely restart our economy," said Premier Doug Ford.
The Ford government, in partnership with the federal government, will provide up to $4 billion in one-time assistance to Ontario's 444 municipalities. This funding will help municipalities protect the health and well-being of the people of Ontario and allow critical public services, such as public transit and shelters, to continue to be delivered as the economy recovers.
The first round of emergency funding in the Safe Restart Agreement will see $695 million go towards municipalities to address operating pressures related to the COVID-19 pandemic. There will be more than $660 million directed to support transit systems. Ontario is providing an additional $212 million through the Social Services Relief Fund to help vulnerable people find shelter.
The funding for municipalities to address operating pressures will be allocated on a per-household basis. This funding will be shared 50/50 between upper- and lower-tier municipalities.
The funding for transit will be provided to the 110 municipalities with that have public transit systems. This funding can be used to provide immediate relief from transit pressures, such as low ridership, and new costs related to COVID-19, such as enhanced cleaning and masks for staff.
The Ford government is distributing these funds through the Social Services Relief Fund to municipal service managers and Indigenous housing partners. This funding can be used to protect homeless shelter staff and residents, expand rent support programs, and create longer-term housing solutions.
The Safe Restart Agreement provides more than $19 billion to Canadian provinces and territories to ensure a strong economic recovery and supports frontline health care, families, and communities. It provides more than $7 billion in funding and support to Ontario.