Tory lays out plan to support Toronto's economy amid COVID-19 impacts

Mayor John Tory's new task force is trying to take the pressure off Toronto businesses by creating a grace period for city taxes and establishing a contingency fund.

Plan includes immediate steps, including extending tax grace periods for businesses

With some businesses opting to shutter voluntarily and many customers staying home, Toronto's mayor has created a new task force meant to support the city's economy amid COVID-19. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Mayor John Tory's new plan to support Toronto's economy through the COVID-19 pandemic includes several immediate steps to take the pressure off businesses and residents. 

"COVID-19 is having a devastating impact on the City of Toronto's economy," said a release put out by the Tory early Monday morning. 

In order to "minimize that impact and see an economic recovery take place as soon as possible," the mayor says the city will add a 30-day grace period for businesses to pay taxes and other City of Toronto payments. 

They will also establish a "substantial contingency fund" to support businesses, expand the city's small business advisory service, help Torontonians apply for employment insurance, and continue to pay city employees despite the cancellation of programming. 

Tory says he'll also lobby the provincial and federal government to waive penalties for business owners who fail to remit HST on time. 

Conference calls with stakeholders 

With recommendations from health officials to avoid large gatherings and practice social distancing, some Toronto businesses have opted to close on their own initiative, while others are changing their policies or reducing hours. 

As of Monday, Cadillac Fairview malls — including Eaton Centre, Sherway Gardens, and Fairview Mall — are among those limiting their hours to 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

Tory says that his economic support and recovery task force will also hold conference calls with groups of stakeholders to look at other economic recovery options. 

The first of those meetings, scheduled for Monday, will be with representatives from the hospitality and film industries. 

Meetings will also be held with non-profits, universities, faith leaders, and the tech sector — among others. 

On Friday, the federal government also unveiled its latest COVID-19 economic recovery efforts, including a $10 billion credit facility to lend money to businesses under stress.