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GTHA Mayors and Chairs support travel measures, sick pay benefits, safe school reopening and repeat call for Safe Restart 2.0 Funding

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 and growing concern around the threat of viral variants.

The Mayors and Chairs wish to acknowledge the travel and testing measures brought forward last week by the Governments of Canada and Ontario. Having called for these measures, we appreciate these new rules and restrictions being initiated in the cause of encouraging people to stay home and limiting the arrival of the virus or the variants from outside the country.

The Mayors and Chairs also discussed a number of other pandemic related matters and commented on them as follows:

  • We support the submissions of the Medical Officers of Health about the importance of the safe reopening of schools as soon as possible. This is especially important for the well-being of the students.
  • In light of the inconsistent treatment that has arisen even to the extent of closed dog grooming businesses bringing in dog food to allow them to perform their services in apparent compliance with the regulations, a clear determination is requested so we can have clarity across the region and across the Province.
  • We continue to strongly advocate for simplified and increased sick pay benefits to be made available. As recently reported by Peel, contact tracing has shown a significant number of cases where people have gone to work sick and dozens who went to work after a positive test result. This is unacceptable and could be fixed if the will was there.
  • We encourage the Government of Ontario, in consultation with stakeholders including municipalities, to prepare plans for an overall safe reopening. While it is still not known when this might take place, the need for a well thought out plan is significant including simplified supports for affected businesses. The Mayors and Chairs also supported the continued funding of the ShopHERE program which is scheduled to expire this month. We urge businesses to familiarize themselves with these programs so they can apply to those which include them.

The Mayors and Chairs once again discussed the need for the federal and provincial governments to come forward with funding for municipalities through a Safe Restart Agreement 2.0. As cities finalize and implement their 2021 budgets, the vaccine distribution and ongoing efforts in fighting the pandemic, it is absolutely vital that they have funding commitments to help plan out their continued response, particularly in light of some drastically reduced revenues such as those connected to public transit.

All municipalities continue to be engaged in finding savings, offsets and efficiencies in their budgets while continuing to provide and enhance key frontline services responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We continue to urge everyone to stay home to help break the deadly chain of transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The health and safety of our communities remains our top priority and that’s why we are pleased the federal and provincial governments have suspended all flights to sunny destinations and implemented mandatory testing at airports for people returning to Canada. Now is not the time to take non-essential trips outside of the country. By making tough decisions now, we will stop the spread of this virus and begin planning our recovery efforts.”

- Mayor Fred Eisenberger