By: The Working Forest Staff
TORONTO — The Ontario government is taking the first step in a made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal, and economic recovery. The province has introduced the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act, proposed legislation that lays the foundation to restart jobs and development, strengthen communities, and create opportunities for people in every region of the province.
Details of the legislation were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has touched all Ontarians and created significant hardship for individuals, families, and businesses,” said Premier Ford. “People are relying on our government to help rebuild the province and get people back to work ― and that’s exactly what we’re doing, starting with this new legislation.”
If passed, the COVID-19 Economic Recovery Act will:
- Restart jobs and development to get Ontario’s economic engine roaring again by getting key infrastructure projects built faster, attracting more jobs and investment, and cutting red tape to help businesses adapt to the new environment.
- Strengthen communities by ensuring municipalities are equipped with the tools they need to continue to provide the critical services people rely on every day, including allowing municipalities and their local boards to continue to choose to hold meetings electronically at any time and putting in place a new community benefits charge to help municipalities pay for the infrastructure and services needed for growing communities.
- Create opportunities for people as they recover their lives and livelihoods by protecting consumers, modernizing services, improving the education system, and removing the social and economic barriers that stand in the way of success for young people.
“We are working hand in hand with our municipal partners so they can emerge stronger and better able to meet the needs of local residents,” said Minister Clark. “Ontario will continue to be a champion for communities and work closely with the federal government to help every community chart a path to a strong economic recovery.”
“Making Ontario a modern regulator — one that communicates clearly and operates effectively — will free up our people and businesses to focus on what’s important: recovering and re-emerging stronger than before,” said Minister Sarkaria. “By improving digital access to government and incorporating best practices, we’re empowering businesses to rebuild, rehire, and return to a period where their success fuels our economic growth. A modern Ontario is better for people and smarter for business.”
The government is committed to working in partnership with people, businesses, and municipalities to respond to the challenges they face and support the long-term health and prosperity of Ontario’s economy.
- Ontario’s COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website was created to help businesses overcome the unique challenges created by this pandemic.
- Through almost 1,300 submissions the government is actively investigating nearly 400 as identified roadblocks.
- To assist municipalities, the province announced several supports in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID 19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update). This lays the groundwork for nearly $450 million of direct support to assist municipalities in their efforts to support vulnerable people, deferring the June municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, and postponing the property tax reassessment for 2021 to ensure that municipal governments can focus their attention on critical public health initiatives.
- The $450 million in support includes $350 million through the Social Services Relief Fund, most of which allows local service managers and Indigenous program administrators to expand supports for our vulnerable people across the province; an additional $100 million to support public health units and Public Health Ontario for the extraordinary costs incurred in meeting this public health threat and in protecting Ontarians.
- The government is investing $2.6 billion this year to rehabilitate Ontario’s highways and bridges in every corner of Ontario. To get shovels in the ground faster and get more people back to work, the government is making it easier to build this critical transportation infrastructure, which will reduce delays and save taxpayers money.