Today, City of Toronto staff presented a report to City Council to address the experienced and anticipated financial impacts of the pandemic and proposed options for mitigation.
City Council voted to adopt the report’s recommendations, including $513.7 million in mitigation strategies through anticipated cost savings from workforce restraints, spending constraints and cost avoidance. An additional $34.1 million in added offsets is also available from budget variance.
To date, workforce restraints have produced $48 million in savings and are expected to total $152 million by year-end. Initiatives implemented so far include redeployment of staff to critical and essential service areas, implementing Emergency Leave for staff unable to provide service or work remotely, seasonal and part-time staff layoffs, a hiring slowdown and mandating vacation use.
The report adopted today includes further staff-related recommendations that are anticipated to yield additional savings. These include a voluntary separation program for those eligible to retire with an unreduced pension and cancellation of the Pay for Performance program for 2021 (based on 2020 performance) and the 2020 cost of living salary increases for non-union/management staff.
City Councillors also supported Mayor Tory’s motion to rescind the annual cost of living adjustment salary increase for elected officials and freezing their 2020 salaries.
The City continues to engage with the federal and provincial governments to request relief funding to offset the cumulative financial impact to City expenditures and revenues. The City is hopeful that this funding will meet the level required to resolve the budget shortfall and avoid substantial changes to service levels and looks forward to further details on the funding allocations in the coming weeks. Earlier this week, the Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, announced they are providing up to $4 billion in one-time assistance to Ontario’s municipalities as part of the Safe Restart Agreement.
The City of Toronto, consistent with other large Canadian and GTHA municipalities, has experienced significant financial impacts in the form of both added costs and revenue losses as a direct result of COVID-19. The City anticipates a financial impact of $1.9 billion for tax-supported programs by the end of 2020, prior to any offsets through mitigation strategies. With mitigation strategies in place, the City projects a reduced total year-end shortfall of $1.35 billion. In addition, staff are also estimating a preliminary 2021 Operating Budget pressure of nearly $1.5 billion.
The Report on the City’s Response to COVID-19 and Financial Impacts is available at on the City’s website.
More information about the City’s response to COVID-19 is available at toronto.ca/covid-19.
“The City continues to provide essential and critical services in the face of unprecedented financial pressures, which requires difficult decisions, including decisions related to employee compensation and benefits. Today, City Council took immediate action to make sure we are doing everything we can to protect our frontline services. We will continue to work with the federal and provincial governments to secure the financial support that the City needs to continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and ensure we have a strong restart and recovery.”
– Mayor John Tory
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