December 16, 2020, the Ontario government unveiled a five-year poverty reduction strategy to help Ontarians get back to work and participate in the province’s economic recovery from COVID-19. The strategy, Building a Strong Foundation for Success: Reducing Poverty in Ontario, includes key initiatives to connect people experiencing poverty with education, skills, training, health and other supports.
This afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, provided an update on COVID-19 trends in the City of Toronto.
Earlier this afternoon, Ontario launched a “support local” marketing campaign to assist small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19. The campaign’s objective is to instill a sense of pride among Ontarians, and encourage people to safely be a tourist within their own community. The campaign will air on TV, radio, digital, and social media beginning in mid-December, and will run through mid-January.
This morning, Ontario announced the allocation of an additional $695 million to provide financial relief for municipalities facing budget shortfalls as a result of COVID-19. This allocation builds on the first phase of the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement announced in the summer.
Building a Strong Foundation for Success: Reducing Poverty in Ontario
The Ontario government announced a five-year poverty reduction strategy today, entitled Building a Strong Foundation for Success: Reducing Poverty in Ontario. Areas of focus for the strategy include:
- Encouraging job creation and connecting people to employmentthrough investments in education, employment services, and training programs.
- Connecting people with the right supports and services by improving access to health and wellbeing supports, and enabling access to education, training, and employment.
- Making life more affordable and building financial resiliency by reducing the cost of living and protecting consumers.
- Accelerating action and driving progress by working across sectors to support economic recovery, and developing integrated solutions to better connect Ontario’s health, social, and economic systems.
The poverty reduction strategy leverages the $45 billion committed over a three-year period in Ontario’s 2020 Budget to support individuals, families, and employers. The intent of the strategy is to build a foundation for Ontario’s long-term economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
City of Toronto Update on COVID-19
This afternoon, Mayor Tory and Dr. de Villa provided an update on the status of COVID-19 spread within the City of Toronto.
As of today, the total number of COVID-19 cases in Toronto since the beginning of the pandemic has surpassed 50,000. A record high of 850 new cases was reported today.
According to Dr. de Villa, the risk of more widespread illness within Toronto is real and rising. She presented data which indicated that, while it took Toronto from January 25 until October 20, 2020 to cross the threshold of 25,000 total cases, it took fewer than eight weeks for the total number of cases in the city to double again and hit 50,000.
Dr. de Villa also presented anonymized cell phone data which demonstrated that Torontonians are staying home less often during the current lockdown than in the initial province-wide lockdown in the spring.
Mayor Tory added that he is in discussion with Premier Doug Ford about next steps that can be taken over the holidays to further slow the spread of COVID-19. While Mayor Tory would not provide details on specific actions being discussed, he noted that any action by the province should be taken with appropriate notice, ahead of the planned expiry of the 28-day lockdown in Toronto and Peel on December 21. He expanded that he hopes new measures will be regional in nature, encompassing the entire Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, in order to avoid confusion and limit travel out of regions in lockdown to regions at lower public health levels.
Additional Financial Relief for Municipalities
Earlier today, the Ontario government announced an additional allocation of $695 million to provide financial relief to municipalities during COVID-19. The investment announced today builds on the first phase of the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement announced in the summer. Funds will support municipalities in the delivery of critical services during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The $695 million announced today will be broken down as follows:
- $299 million will be allocated across all 444 municipalities in Ontario.
- An additional $396 million will be allocated to 48 municipalities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and have demonstrated a need for additional assistance.
The $695 million allocation is in addition to funding being provided to municipalities to address local transit pressures. The province has notionally allocated $1.3 billion for municipal transit systems for the next round of transit funding under the Safe Restart Agreement. Further details regarding the transit funding will be available in January.