Mayor Tory Announces Economic Task Force to Help Businesses Affected by COVID-19

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Photo via John Tory's Facebook page

Mayor John Tory has announced an economic task force to help aid businesses and workers affected by the coronavirus outbreak.

The Economic Support and Recovery Task Force will “identify immediate and long-term economic strategies for residents and businesses, with a focus on supporting those segments of the economy that are most strongly impacted by COVID-19, such as tourism, hospitality, and entertainment.”

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Over the weekend, the mayor and City finance and economic development staff identified five immediate measures the City can undertake. They are:

  • Extend a grace period for tax and other City of Toronto payments for businesses (payment and payment penalties) first for 30 days as of March 16.
  • Protect city recreation employees from layoffs this month due to the cancellation of city programs. The city will pay the primarily part-time staff for shifts that were planned for city-run daycares, museums and recreation centres.
  • Establish a “substantial contingency fund” to support businesses and affected groups, based on consultations to determine the need and scale.
  • Work with affected businesses and workers who need to access the Employment Insurance system to ensure they know how to apply.
  • Expand the city’s small business advisory services to help businesses as they plan to recover from impacts.

According to a release, the first set of meetings taking place around the initiative will begin on Monday, with representatives from the hospitality and film sectors. Other meetings currently being organized include those with faith and community leaders, BIAs, universities, social services and not-for-profits, organized labour, tech, and big business:

The announcement of the economic task force comes at the tail-end of a weekend full of rumours, including the closure of all non-essential businesses in the City and/or province. For example, New York City and LA have both already announced the closure of bars and restaurants for purposes other than takeout and delivery.

Amidst the rumours, Mayor Tory is urging the public to be patient and rely on accurate information:

The next official media briefing from the City of Toronto will take place today, Monday, March 16 at 3:45 pm unless otherwise advised.

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