Impact of COVID-19 Response on the City’s Finances
The City of Toronto has been on the frontlines of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Since January, our rapid response team has been working around the clock to stabilize services, limit transmission, and help our most vulnerable.
Over the past month, we have opened six free, round-the-clock childcare facilities for essential workers; launched food security programs and mental health supports; and relocated over 1,000 people out of the shelter system and into alternate accommodation in hotel rooms, community centers, and TCHC units, with plans for 1,000 more by the end of April.
This response has had a significant impact on the City’s finances. Numbers announced by Mayor Tory today confirm that our COVID-19 response is costing the City close to $65 million each and every week. This cost is a combination of increased spending on front-line services, as well as lost revenue. The most significant element is the estimated $20 million the City is losing each week in TTC revenue, due to decreased ridership.
Looking forward, much of these costs will continue. Under staff estimates, a three-month lockdown period for the City, combined with a six-month recovery period, would cost as much as $1.5 billion. This is currently our best case scenario; a longer lockdown period — nine months, for example — would cost the City close to $3 billion.
In the words of the Mayor, this is one of greatest financial challenges the City has ever faced. Reducing services and cutting supports when residents are most in need is not an option. In addition to looking for savings, we will need other levels of government to step in with assistance.
We will continue to monitor the City’s finances, and work together to explore solutions going forward.