Toronto is receiving the first phase of funding for the TTC from the province as ridership has declined due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The province will provide an initial boost of $404 million to support the city’s transit system, said Mayor John Tory during the city’s COVID-19 update on Wednesday.
“We’ve been fighting for this funding to protect our TTC and our city services in the wake of this pandemic,” said Tory, adding that just a few weeks ago the municipality’s finances were in a dire state.
Through working with the province and the federal government the region is in better shape, and around $500 million in savings and efficiencies have been found so far during the pandemic, he explained.
Premier Doug Ford announced Wednesday that the province will be giving $1.6 billion to municipalities as they grapple with the financial hurdles that emerged due to COVID-19.
Continued reopening of some city programs
Along with the new financing for transit, Tory also announced the resumption of some city services and programs as the region continues with the reopening process.
Starting Monday, city recreational facilities at community centres will start back up, including 36 fitness centres. Online reservations will be available for indoor pools and gyms and there will be staggered appointments to keep with social distancing protocols, said Tory.
Toronto’s urban forestry community initiatives will also be available again, including volunteer tree planting, he said.
Eight new cases in Toronto weeks after Stage 3 begins
Tory also announced that there were eight new cases of COVID-19 in the city over the last day.
Toronto’s cases have continued to decline, as less than 20 new cases have been reported in the region per day over the last three weeks.
The province’s daily epidemiologic summary indicated Wednesday that Toronto had 19 new cases over the last day as that tally includes data as of 2 p.m. the previous day. The number of new infections may differ from what a local public health unit — like Toronto’s — is reporting due to lag times in the province’s count process.
The city entered Stage 3 on July 31, allowing indoor restaurants, bars and playgrounds to open with physical-distancing measures in place.
A total of 40,289 have been confirmed in Ontario since the pandemic began, but around 91 per cent of those cases are considered resolved.
The majority of Ontario’s new cases today are from Toronto, while Peel region had 16 cases and Ottawa announced 13 new cases.
Public Health staying vigilant under Stage 3
While Dr. Eileen de Villa said Toronto has made “significant progress” in reducing the spread of COVID-19, there’s a concern about coronavirus fatigue among young people who may feel they aren’t at risk, she said at a press conference at the end of July.
Physical distancing must remain in place, which means no one should be spending time indoors with those outside of their social bubbles, even in Stage 3, she explained.
Public health is preparing for a possible resurgence of the virus, she said.
“The reality is that COVID-19 is still here, and we need everyone to stay focused on stopping its spread. We cannot let our guard down,” she said.