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GTHA Mayors and Chairs stress a safe reopening includes safe schools, more small business capacity, and Safe Restart 2.0 agreement

HAMILTON, ON – Today, Mayors and Chairs from the 11 largest municipal governments across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area held their regular weekly meeting to discuss the ongoing response to COVID-19 across the region.

The Mayors and Chairs welcomed the priority placed on the safe reopening of schools. We also support the staging of the re-opening that Premier Ford announced today which will also help to safely address some of the unfairness that has resulted from big businesses being open and not smaller ones. Given that public health officials are very concerned about the variants, the Mayors and Chairs share the province's concern around the variants and continue to urge great care as the reopening proceeds. We firmly believe we should be careful in our re-opening, so that when places are able to re-open, they are able to stay open. We believe reopening should be accompanied by consistent standards consistently applied to local public health circumstances.

The Mayors and Chairs look forward to working with the Province to ensure the vaccination information system is as user-friendly and effective as possible, particularly given that the system will be at the front end of locally driven vaccination programs and will be relied upon to produce useful data.

The reopening of the GTHA will be crucial to the successful restart of Ontario's economy and Canada's economy as a whole. That's why ahead of several meetings with federal officials this week, the Mayors and Chairs reiterated the need for the federal and provincial governments to come forward with funding for municipalities through a Safe Restart Agreement 2.0. As cities plan their 2021 budgets, the vaccine distribution and ongoing efforts towards fighting the pandemic including the variants, it is absolutely vital that they have funding commitments to help plan out their continued response.

A completed Safe Restart 2.0 agreement will give municipalities the stability they need to support the safe reopening.

Renewing such an agreement early in 2021 will be the best way to make sure municipalities can continue to respond to this unprecedented pandemic and continue to make needed investments in major capital projects – which create jobs and help renew the vital infrastructure that will be crucial to any successful economic recovery.

“Municipal governments are at the forefront of keeping frontline services strong and driving Ontario's economic recovery. That’s why we need additional emergency operating funding as part of a Safe Restart Agreement 2.0. I am optimistic that federal and provincial governments will not miss this opportunity to provide the emergency funding municipalities need to help us through this pandemic and reopen our economy. Most community members are adhering to public health recommendations and to those individuals, we thank you. We continue to urge everyone to stay home to help break the deadly chain of transmission of the COVID-19 virus.”

- Mayor Fred Eisenberger