Toronto mayor announces task force to help the city's economy amid coronavirus outbreak
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to wreak havoc on public health — as well as economies — across the globe, Toronto mayor John Tory has announced a dedicated task force to help provide immediate economic relief.
The Mayor's Economic Support and Recovery Task Force is a new measure meant "to help protect Toronto's economic success in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic."
The task force will work to identify strategies to mitigate the financial effects of COVID-19 on residents and businesses throughout the outbreak, while focusing on the segments that are most impacted such as tourism, hospitality and entertainment.
As we navigate unprecedented times, we must take unprecedented action to help our residents & our economy now & in the future. That’s why I am launching an Economic Support & Recovery Task Force to help protect Toronto’s economic success in the wake of the #COVIDー19 pandemic. pic.twitter.com/ncMaTQ0vdL— John Tory (@JohnTory) March 16, 2020
Working with finance and economic development staff over the weekend, Tory has already identified the first five measures to be taken by the city to help provide economic relief.
Effective today, the city will be extending a grace period for tax and other payments for businesses (payment and payment penalties) for 30 days, as well as protecting city employees from layoffs this month due to the cancellation of city programs.
Tory says the city is committed to paying for shifts that were planned for city-run daycares, museums, and recreation centres.
Toronto will also be establishing "a substantial contingency fund" for businesses and affected groups, and upcoming consultations will help to determine the need and scale.
The mayor is planning to advocate to the provincial and federal governments for penalties to be waived for business owners failing to remit HST on time, as well as for other support measures to help businesses and residents.
Tory has also said he'll be participating in several conference calls this week to discuss how to best help residents and businesses, starting with representatives from the hospitality and film sectors Monday.
Working with City finance and economic development staff over the weekend, I have already identified five immediate measures the City can undertake within its powers to help provide economic relief. pic.twitter.com/m0PT8hB5nZ— John Tory (@JohnTory) March 16, 2020
In addition, the city will be making it easier for companies and employees to enter into the EI System, and they'll be expanding Toronto's small business advisory services to help businesses recover from impacts.
"These are unprecedented times and we must take unprecedented action to help our residents and our economy now and in the future. We will get through this pandemic by listening to our professional medical experts," Tory said in a statement today.
"I'm confident we will get through the economic impact of this pandemic by listening to people and doing the smart, responsible things we can do to help them. I want every resident and every business in this city to know that your Mayor and your City government have your back."
Tory is set to meet with faith and community leaders, BIAs, universities, social services and not-for-profits, organized labour, tech, and big businesses for further discussions later this week.
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