Kitchener-Waterloo

Premier Ford says municipalities will get slice of $7B from feds but must cut costs, too

Municipalities will soon be told how much they'll get of the $7 billion the province is getting from the federal government.

If municipalities say they can't find savings, 'that's hogwash,' Ontario premier says

Ontario Premier Doug Ford visited Essex County on Thursday and got his haircut. On Friday, returned to Waterloo region to tour local businesses. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Municipalities will soon be told how much they'll get of the $7 billion Ontario is getting from the federal government, Premier Doug Ford said Friday.

"We're going to be rolling that over the next week. We just want to make sure that all the numbers are accurate," Ford said during a press conference in Kitchener Friday.

The federal government agreed Thursday to give all the provinces and territories $19 billion to help with COVID-19. The money is set to be divided into categories such as child care, contact tracing, mental health, personal protective equipment and help for municipalities.

Ontario municipalities have called on the governments to help them financially.

Region of Waterloo Chair Karen Redman said the region faces a $17 million deficit by the end of the year without help from higher levels of government.

Meanwhile, Toronto has said the pandemic will cost the city $1.5 billion. Without help, the municipalities have warned they will increase property taxes and cut services.

Although Ford said municipalities will get a piece of the $7 billion pie, he was quick to add municipalities will need to find their own cost savings as well.

"Mayor [John] Tory's found $400-500 million in savings," Ford said.

"There isn't one municipality, if they come and tell me, I've walked a mile in their shoes, and they say, 'Doug, there's no efficiencies in my place.' My first thing is, that's hogwash. There's efficiencies at the province, at the feds, at the municipal level."

'You have no idea how hard I worked'

He thanked municipalities that have been "prudent fiscal managers."

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner, who is the MPP for Guelph, said the $7 billion won't be enough to help municipalities and he called on the province to match the federal funds.

When asked if his government would provide additional funding beyond what has been promised by the federal government, Ford said, "We'll get the money for the municipalities."

He said there are many areas of the province in need of an influx of cash including the Toronto Transit Commission which is "bleeding" money and Metrolinx.

"Everyone needs money. We're going to split it up equally and make sure that the people that need it get the money," Ford said.

"You have no idea how hard I worked with the municipal governments and the premiers to get the funding for the municipalities and transit. I'll tell you, it was a challenge but we got there."

Ford visits brewery, snack factory

Ford's trip to Waterloo region on Friday came as the region, along with a number of other municipalities, were allowed to enter Stage 3 of the province's COVID-19 reopening plan. The reopening includes dine-in restaurants, playgrounds and gyms.

Ford visited Canadian Shield, a company created during the pandemic to make face shields. The face shield received Health Canada approval in March and has since been shipped to several hospitals across the province. The company also recently started making surgical masks.

Ford was also scheduled to stop at Waterloo Brewing to pour a pint before visiting the Frito-Lay factory in Cambridge.

Ford also toured businesses in the region on Wednesday and was asked by reporters about child care plans to reopen schools. On Thursday, the premier got his hair cut in Essex County.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story quoted Premier Doug Ford as saying Toronto Mayor John Tory had found $4 to $5 million in savings. In fact, the quote should have said $400-500 million in savings.
    Jul 20, 2020 8:20 AM ET

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