Coronavirus: Toronto city councillor calls for postponement of commercial property taxes

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Canada’s chief medical officer reports 313 cases of COVID-19 so far'
Coronavirus outbreak: Canada’s chief medical officer reports 313 cases of COVID-19 so far
Canada's Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Theresa Tam said on Sunday that Canada now has 313 cases of COVID-19, with all 10 provinces now reporting cases – Mar 15, 2020

A Toronto city councillor is calling for commercial property taxes, water and waste collection bills to be postponed for local businesses in the city amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Coun. Brad Bradford, who represents Beaches-East York, called on Mayor John Tory to support the measures in a letter sent on Saturday.

“In the days and weeks since the COVID-19 (outbreak) began affecting daily life in Toronto, I have been hearing from business owners who are under serious pressure as a result of the outbreak,” Bradford said.

“On behalf of my community, I am urging you to place the City’s full support behind the businesses through the difficult weeks and months ahead.”

Story continues below advertisement

In addition to recommending that commercial property taxes, water bills and waste collection bills be deferred, Bradford called for the use of capital reserves to provide “emergency relief” for local businesses.

Bradford said landlords should be urged to use discretion and flexibility in collecting rent, and programs should be prepared to help businesses after the outbreak subsides.

“Local businesses employ some 650,000 people in this city. Maintaining the health of these businesses as we maintain our personal health is critical for the long-term strength of our communities,” he said.

Lawvin Hadisi, a spokesperson for Tory, responded to the letter in a statement sent to Global News on Sunday.

Click to play video: 'How to work effectively from home during self-isolation'
How to work effectively from home during self-isolation

“Mayor Tory has repeatedly said that the City’s businesses and employees need support from their government during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hadisi said.

Story continues below advertisement

“He has pledged to have the backs of residents and businesses during this difficult time. The mayor is encouraged by the action taken by both the federal and provincial governments so far but knows there is more work to be done. As the mayor said last week, over the coming weeks he will be leading the City’s efforts to help residents and businesses with the help of Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson and other city officials.”

[ Sign up for our Health IQ newsletter for the latest coronavirus updates ]

Hadisi said Tory will also be engaging with business leaders this week to discuss ways to help residents and businesses.

“The mayor also announced Friday — and repeated the message today on Twitter — that he is calling on landlords to offer accommodation to tenants with a focus on small business tenants,” Hadisi said.

Story continues below advertisement

On Friday, in an address to the nation from self-quarantine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would be creating an economic aid package to help mitigate financial effects from the pandemic, the full details of which have not yet been revealed.

Reuters reported the package could be valued up to $20 billion.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said $10 billion would be available through the Business Development Bank of Canada, most of which would go towards “small and medium-sized enterprises.”

The Bank of Canada also cut its overnight rate target by half a percentage point to 0.75 per cent.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus outbreak: Morneau announces $10 billion to support businesses amid COVID-19 concerns'
Coronavirus outbreak: Morneau announces $10 billion to support businesses amid COVID-19 concerns

Ontario Premier Doug Ford welcomed both actions by the federal government but called for further reassurance for businesses and families.

Story continues below advertisement

“Our priority is ensuring coordination between the provinces, territories and the federal government to safeguard the health and well-being of Canadians and protect jobs in the short term and our economy in the long term,” Ford said in a statement after a first ministers call.

Meanwhile, Tory remains in self-quarantine after a recent business trip to the United Kingdom.

— With files from Andrew Russell and Amanda Connolly

Sponsored content