The Quebec government has announced $263 million in aid to the city of Montreal in a bid to offset the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on municipal finances.
Andrée Laforest, Quebec’s minister of municipal affairs and housing, made the announcement in Montreal on Tuesday alongside Chantal Rouleau, the minister responsible for Montreal, and Mayor Valérie Plante.
“It will allow the City of Montreal to position itself as a key player in the economic recovery,” Laforest said.
Plante acknowledged the investment was timely.
“Montreal suffered a great deal during the first wave of this pandemic and necessarily so too did our finances,” Plante said. “This amount of $263 million is excellent news.”
Plante said despite spending cutback measures unveiled in April that saved the city around $123 million, other expenses kept accumulating.
The mayor said around $85 million was spent during the first wave to help Montrealers get through the safety measures and business closures.
As an example, she cited some $26 million that went towards providing support to the city’s homeless population in the way of day shelters, overnight shelters and food aid, as well as another $5 million that went towards setting up summer day camps for kids.
With a loss in revenue from parking tickets and construction permits, to name a few, the anticipated deficit as of Aug. 31 was between $109 and $129 million.
Plante said the provincial money will not only help alleviate the deficit, but will give the city more flexibility and avoid cuts to services.
“It’s about balancing part of the budget, for supporting all kinds of busineses, and to support measures for the homeless like during the first wave,” she said. “That’s why we appreciate not only the money, but also the flexibility.”
The financial boost is on top of $100 million announced last week to help the estimated 12,000 businesses that were forced to shut down in October because of coronavirus red-zone restrictions.
— With files from Global’s Gloria Henriquez