Mayor Paterson outlines COVID-19 recovery priorities for 2021 Ontario budget

Photo by Lucas Mulder.

Mayor Bryan Paterson has outlined the City of Kingston’s budget priorities in a submission to Ontario’s Minister of Finance as part of their 2021 budget consultations.

“COVID-19 has impacted many aspects of our city and amplified existing challenges of homelessness, mental health, addiction, and access to affordable housing. It has also strained our local post-secondary institutions, threatened the livelihood of our downtown and cultural sector, and put into question the survival of many local businesses,” said Mayor Paterson.

“We appreciate Ontario’s investments to date and look forward to working together to support provincial and local recovery.” The submission outlines several areas where the Mayor said the province could support a safe and stable recovery including:

  • More support for local businesses including reducing regulatory burdens, expanding rent relief, and continued investment to implement additional public health requirements.
  • A continuation of the Social Services Relief Fund (SSRF) and the Safe Restart Agreement (SRA) into 2022 to support housing and childcare needs.
  • A direct operating investment into Kingston’s Integrated Care Hub.
  • Accelerating the recommendations and funding of ‘Ontario’s Roadmap to Wellness’ mental health and addictions strategy.
  • Accelerating the recommendations from the Province’s Independent Commission on Long-Term care including funding the new 4-hr minimum standard of care.

“During the pandemic we’ve faced many challenges, but we’ve also seen incredible collaboration among organizations and agencies in this region,” said Bhavana Varma, CEO of United Way KFL&A.

“As the representative for the non-profit/charitable sector on the recovery team, this has been an opportunity to ensure we’re aligned when it comes to social and economic recovery in our community, and that everybody is taken into account, especially the most vulnerable,” she said. “This budget ask is a product of our community working together in an extremely collaborative way.”

In May 2020, Mayor Paterson launched the Kingston Economic Recovery Team (KERT). KERT has been meeting every month since last spring to coordinate short- and long-term strategies to respond to the economic impacts of COVID-19 in Kingston. Paterson said this budget submission is a product of collaboration amongst our business community, non- profit sector, tourism and culture industry and our post-secondary institutions and details how the province could best support the City’s recovery efforts.

“We echo these commonsense recommendations from the City of Kingston, in particular their call for additional spending and preparations so we can avoid a prolonged economic downturn,” said Karen Cross, CEO of the Greater Kingston Chamber of Commerce. “As we continue supporting each other today, we must begin looking over the horizon to ensure businesses are prepared for the province’s reopening and recovery. The health of our local economy is dependent on the steps we take today to ensure its well-being.”

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