Coronavirus could cost City of Toronto at least $1.5B, mayor says

Mayor John Tory says the coronavirus pandemic could cost the City of Toronto between $1.5 and $2.76 billion, depending on the needed duration of public health and government measures.

“This is one of the greatest challenges this city has ever faced and so we will have to rise to that challenge,” Tory told reporters Friday afternoon.

“While we are scouring the City government for savings while still maintaining all the essential and critical services that people rely on in the city and we’re providing today through the pandemic, we will need help from the other levels of government.”

Tory said a three-month lockdown and a six-month recovery period could cost $1.5 billion in 2020, calling that figure a “best-case scenario.” It was estimated that $938 million would be as a result of various government measures in place now and $590 million would be during a recovery period.

The cost could be higher if there are real estate market impacts, an increase in the duration of physical distancing measures and if there are additional COVID-19 waves later in the year.

Tory said the pandemic has cost the City of Toronto approximately $65 million a week since full public health measures were enacted.

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A large portion of that weekly figure comes from lost TTC ridership revenue, Tory said, noting that alone is around $20 million a week.

Tory said the City has kept operating the TTC at higher numbers given how many essential workers in Toronto use the TTC to get to work and to provide extra space in keeping with physical distancing recommendations by public health.

When it comes to identifying specific ways municipal savings might occur, Tory said he’ll provide updates in the coming weeks.

“This is a national issue and this is a major provincial issue,” he said.

“Cities are on the frontlines of helping combat COVID-19 and they will be on the frontlines of rebuilding and recovering our economy. Our city led Canada’s economy before this crisis and we will have to lead it again.”

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