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$12M for Guelph in 1st round of COVID-19 relief funding

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Ontario pledges $1.6B for municipalities, including funding for transit' Coronavirus: Ontario pledges $1.6B for municipalities, including funding for transit
The Ontario government announced on Wednesday that it would provide $1.6 billion in funding for municipalities to help support them during the novel coronavirus pandemic, which would include $660 million to support transit systems in communities across the province – Aug 12, 2020

The City of Guelph will receive just over $12 million from the provincial and federal governments as part of the first round of COVID-19 relief funding for municipalities.

Over $6.9 million will be for Guelph’s operational costs related to the pandemic and over $5 million will be for transit, which is has been hit hard by low ridership.

Read more: Ontario budget deficit projected to jump to $38.5 billion in 2020-2021

The funding is part of the $1.6 billion in emergency funding announced by Premier Doug Ford on Wednesday for Ontario’s 444 municipalities.

As part of Phase 1 of the funding rollout, the province is providing $695 million to municipalities and $660 million for transit. Ford also announced $212 million through a social services relief fund to help vulnerable people find shelter.

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The provincial and federal governments have set aside $4 billion in relief funding for municipalities and more phases of funding are expected.

The announcement was made just as a city council meeting was getting underway to discuss Guelph’s financial situation amid the pandemic.

Click to play video: 'Coronavirus: Ford government projects budget deficit will jump to $38.5B in 2020-21' Coronavirus: Ford government projects budget deficit will jump to $38.5B in 2020-21
Coronavirus: Ford government projects budget deficit will jump to $38.5B in 2020-21 – Aug 12, 2020

Guelph Mayor Cam Guthrie announced the relief funding to kick off the meeting.

“This is excellent, this is very good,” he said. “The government has acknowledged that this is a shot in the arm immediately to help us with operating impacts.”

Read more: Guelph’s projected COVID-19 deficit jumps to $24.3 million

Guthrie noted that more funding from the upper levels of government is expected.

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The city is projecting a $24.3-million deficit this year due to COVID-19 with a staff report showing revenue impacts to be $20.7 million, plus $3.6 million in additional costs.

But the report also states that an estimated $14.3 million in savings were made during the pandemic by halting spending, laying off employees, pausing non-critical hiring and cutting service and programs.

That left the city with a $10-million shortfall without the emergency funding, which it could cover with money in contingency reserves.

However, staff hinted during the council meeting that may no longer be the case with the new funding announcement.

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The report did note that staff are still concerned if there is a second wave of COVID-19 or an unexpected event occurs.

Read more: Guelph police issue tickets to hundreds of speeders in July

Wellington County is expected to receive over $2.3 million, while another $2.3 million will be split between its lower-tier municipalities.

Here is a breakdown of what each municipality will receive:

  • Centre Wellington — $786,300
  • Guelph Eramosa —$297,600
  • Wellington North — $311,000
  • Erin — $267,000
  • Mapleton — $217,900
  • Minto — $241,600
  • Puslinch — $190,500

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