December 10, 2020 – Today, Ontario’s Financial Accountability Officer, Peter Weltman identified a $2.4 billion shortfall in funding needed to maintain current municipal service levels and tax rates. The report, titled An Overview of Municipal Budgets and an Estimate of the Financial Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic, offers a comprehensive analysis of how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted municipal budgets.
Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) is grateful for the leadership and collaboration demonstrated by the federal and provincial governments to help residents throughout the first stretch of the pandemic. The Safe Restart Agreement helped close a $4.1 billion fiscal gap in 2020 which allowed municipalities to continue providing the necessary, everyday services residents rely on without raising taxes, increasing user fees or cutting service levels in an already challenging time.
Similar federal-provincial partnerships are necessary to address the $2.4 billion shortfall projected for 2021. Without ongoing support, municipalities will be faced with the same difficult decisions that arose earlier in the year as they work through the 2021 budgeting process. Municipalities are legislatively required to deliver balanced budgets each year meaning they are not able to run deficits as a way of addressing fiscal shortfalls.
“Ontario’s Big City Mayors will continue to work collaboratively with the Ontario and federal governments to develop effective responses to the pandemic,” said Jeff Lehman, OBCM Chair and Mayor of Barrie. “Ontario’s Big Cities are united in supporting our residents and businesses in responding and recovering from the pandemic in 2021. A continued federal and provincial partnership is needed in 2021.”
All orders of government have come together to support residents through the pandemic. This important work must continue as we navigate the second wave and ready our economies for recovery. As part of this work, the OBCM put forward a three-point approach to recovery including immediate financial relief, a comprehensive recovery plan as the economy reopens, and longer-term reform of funding and service delivery responsibilities between municipalities and the federal and provincial governments.
About Ontario’s Big City Mayors
Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM), formerly known as the Large Urban Mayors’ Caucus of Ontario, includes mayors of 29 single and lower-tier cities with a population of 100,000 or more, who collectively represent nearly 70 per cent of Ontario’s population. OBCM advocates for issues and policies important to Ontario’s largest cities.
Mayor Jeff Lehman, Chair