2 London task forces to address COVID-19 impacts

London Mayor Ed Holder has announced the creation of two separate task forces in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Outbreak has already put 'significant strain' on London businesses

London Mayor Ed Holder has struck two task forces to assess the impact the coronavirus outbreak has had on the city. (Andrew Lupton/CBC )

London Mayor Ed Holder has announced the creation of two separate task forces in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

One will focus on the economic impact and recovery of the pandemic on the city. The other will focus on the social impact of the virus. 

The task forces are being jointly launched by Holder and deputy major Jesse Helmer.

"While both groups have separate areas of focus, they share a common objective," said Holder.

"We need to understand and hear, first hand, the impact of COVID-19 on key stakeholders in our community so as to identify concrete actions that can be taken by Londoners and London organizations, and, when necessary, communicate those needs to other orders of government. Our provincial and federal partners have been incredibly responsive thus far, and we need to ensure they have accurate information to adjust, as appropriate, going forward."

Both groups will hold their first meetings by video and teleconference on Friday, March 20. Additional meetings will follow on a regular basis.

"We've seen, already, the significant strain this has had on London businesses and workers from a financial perspective," said Helmer. "Equally important however is the strain this has placed on London's most vulnerable, and organizations and agencies who provide them support. We all have a role to play in helping each other through this unprecedented period, and that's what we intend to do."

The economic task force will work directly with London's business and industry leaders and organizations to understand and address the economic impact on London residents, organizations and businesses.

The social impact task force will work with the United Way and "will bring together stakeholders who are working in partnership to support those most vulnerable in our community during the COVID-19 pandemic."

The economic fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak comes after wrenching debates in council over London's 2020-2023 budget.

Council approved a tax levy increase that will average four per cent over the four years. Council struggled to maintain existing city services while facing the cost of significant provincial downloading and the need to address problems with homelessness and poverty, particularly in the downtown core.