Mayor's Remarks: Budget 2021 Consideration

Good morning everyone. Bonjour tout le monde.

 

Budget 2021 is a responsible and progressive budget that strikes a balance between supporting our community’s needs during the pandemic and delivering essential municipal services

Today, I want to highlight key investments and issues.

I believe that the 2021 Budget provides the flexibility needed to deal with the budget pressures expected to result from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We are grateful that both the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario have increased financial support to municipalities in 2020 – to help us deal with cost increases and an unprecedented revenue shortfall.

And again, I want to thank both Premier Ford and Prime Minister Trudeau for their support.

To date, Ottawa has received $124.2 million in COVID-19 Safe Restart funding to address city-wide COVID pressures, including transit pressures.

This represents 68 percent of our overall COVID related funding gap for 2020.

Our Phase 2 application has been submitted – and I’m confident the Province will help make municipalities whole as the pandemic continues into 2021.

What has become clear is that we must stay in lock step with our provincial and federal partners to get through this crisis.

It is clear that we will have to work together for years to come – not only on the public health response.

But also on the much-needed recovery plan to get people back to work across all sectors of our economy.

I would again like to thank the City Manager, the City Treasurer and the entire Senior Leadership Team for their hard work developing this budget under very challenging forecasting conditions.

I also want to thank our Senior Leadership team, under the able guidance of Steve Kanellakos – as well as our entire team of municipal employees – for their very strong and caring COVID-19 response.

I believe we would all agree that nothing is more important than maintaining our core services at this time in our history.

Also, and more so than any other year, I believe that residents are realistic about the City’s fiscal capacity –

many individuals and families are struggling to get by, and they want us to live within our means.

Just yesterday I heard that the average grocery bill for a family of four is projected to go up by $695 next year – mostly due to COVID pressures.

Many families are living paycheque to paycheque – and the City has a responsibility to tighten its belt and not add to that financial burden during these difficult times.

Budget 2021 has a total operating budget of $3.94 billion and a total capital budget of $781 million.

These are big numbers, but we must remember that this budget is built to support our residents – especially those who need it most – and that includes those who have been on the front lines of this pandemic keeping our community safe.

They work at Ottawa Public Health or as paramedics;

they pick up our garbage every week;

they work at the cash at the grocery store or as PSWs at your parents’ long-term care home.

They are helping to build and operate our affordable housing sector – or keeping our drinking water safe.

Residents have told us that they expect a responsible and cautious approach to Budget 2021 – with several needs coming front and centre, including:

  • Support for Ottawa Public Health and other front-line workers such as Paramedics and Long-Term care workers;
  • Working collaboratively with upper levels of government towards practical and responsive solutions;
  • Immediate action to create affordable communities that support residents, including affordable housing;
  • A sustainable economy that supports local businesses and gets residents safely back to work as quickly as possible;
  • Well-maintained roads and transit that connects to employment;
  • Maintaining and building Infrastructure that is in a state of good repair; and of course,
  • Providing services to those most in need especially in these challenging times.

 

These are the priorities that we have heard through our consultation efforts, and these are the priorities that inform our budget decisions today.

COVID has also made clear the need for isolation and social distancing, which is also contributing to an ongoing local housing crunch.

Ottawa continues to have a stubborn vacancy rate of under 1.8 per cent.

Hard to believe, but in Ottawa housing prices have been on the rise – up over 15 percent from last year.

Individuals and families continue to face challenges in accessing affordable housing.

To help address these pressures, the 2021 Budget includes a $15 million investment in affordable housing.

This brings the City’s total capital contribution to $45 million since 2019.

I am also pleased that $5 million of the $15 million investment will be an increase to the Affordable Housing base budget.

This is in addition to the $1 million base budget increase in 2020.

This revised base budget will contribute $60 million in new capital funding for housing over ten years.

This is on top of a projected $10 million from development charge revenues and $10 million from surplus land sales.

These investments will help to fund the projected construction of 2,100 units over the next ten years.

Again, let me emphasize that we are NOT in this alone.

The City of Ottawa has already been approved for $32 million through the federal Rapid Housing Initiative. That’s 109 new units to be built within a year.

We have applied for several other projects through the Rapid Housing project stream.

We hope to learn early in the New Year which of these projects will receive additional funding but I am encouraged by the Government of Canada’s commitment to the City of Ottawa to date.

Budget 2021 also provides $33 million to housing and homelessness agencies for case management, housing loss prevention and operating funding for supportive housing.

When you factor in the City’s operating spending of $112 million in support of housing, and the $47 million in new capital funding, the City will invest historic amounts in housing in 2021.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Province of Ontario for the $31 million of Social Services Relief Funding.

This funding is supporting many organizations across our city, including:

  • The Parkdale Food Centre to make delicious take-home food for outreach workers to deliver to the people who need it the most;
  • Somerset West Health Centre's Black Mental Health Association to help ensure a more equitable response to the COVID-19 crisis and better outcomes for the Black community; and,
  • Minwaashin Lodge Indigenous Women's Support Centre to provide families with food and technology to deal with isolation during this time.

These supports are critical to protecting the health and resiliency of our local social services network during the pandemic.

This funding also enables the City to operate our respite, physical distancing and isolation centres for people experiencing homelessness.

This costs about $1.2 million each month – and it’s another example of why we simply can’t go it alone.

The City’s own funding for social service agencies under Budget 2021 will be $25 million.

We can’t see the City and the Province’s contributions as silos.

Rest assured that taxpayers don’t see these key investments as silos.

When you take our City’s total grants to the social services sector of $25 million in 2021, combined with the Province’s $31 million dollar contribution for COVID resiliency of social services, you get a total investment of $66 million over a 12-month period.

That’s a whopping 264% increase over the City’s base contribution to social service agencies during the pandemic.

And this is why I cannot support the call to increase the burden on City of Ottawa taxpayers to fund programs that are wholly under provincial jurisdiction.

In the next few weeks, Council will be making decisions on the projects that will be funded from the federal/provincial 20-million-dollar COVID-19 Resilience Stream.

This is another example of the impact of combining our more limited municipal tax base with that of the Province of Ontario and the Government of Canada.

Both levels of government have much greater fiscal capacity than the municipal government – and so by working together, we can get so much more done.

I am committed to working with all members of Council and with our provincial partners to secure ongoing financial support for our social services sector beyond March 31, 2021.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the City’s long-term care homes have continued to increase staffing levels to provide quality care and services to residents.

Since the pandemic began, the City has hired an additional 200 staff to support these efforts.

Doing our part to support the staff in our long-term care home, Budget 2021 also includes the following investments:

  • Over $15 million will be invested in staffing, PPE and infection control to address COVID-19; and
  • $7.6 million for renovations, equipment and accessibility improvements to our four Long-Term Care Homes;

These investments are aimed at protecting the health and safety of residents, staff and families while we continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Budget 2021 also provides funding to hire 14 NEW front-line paramedics - the third installment on our four-year goal of 54 new paramedics.

In partnership with the Ottawa Hospital, our community paramedics have also been deployed to the “Red Zones” in Long-Term Care Homes and to mobile testing clinics.

We have heard from over 100 public delegation at the Ottawa Police Service Board and many of you have received significant correspondence on what is an important discussion around the role of policing.

These delegations have articulated their concerns and have given us pause as we make these important budget decisions.

What is before us today is an Ottawa Police Service budget that comes in at 3% on the tax side, plus 1.5% in new growth dollars.

I believe that OPS must develop stronger partnerships with Ottawa Public Health, Community and Social Services, mental health and other community service providers.

OPS cannot do this work on their own.

The community must be at the table for these important discussions.

Throughout the pandemic the Ottawa Police Service has actively participated in the City’s Human Needs Task Force, which fosters greater teamwork and results in better outcomes for residents.

OPS and the City have been working together to shift their focus towards crime prevention and expanding community-led health and safety initiatives.

The City and OPS are also actively refining our Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan.

The plan will seek to address the more deeply rooted causes of crime, focus on prevention, leverage community partnerships and take a multi-faceted approach to community safety.

The draft 2021 Budget maintains support for the hiring of 30 new officers that will be deployed to neighbourhood resource teams, to support growth areas and to the sex crimes unit.

I believe that Ottawa Police Service needs to maintain its funding levels in order to increase its investments in community-based policing, and in order to bring about the type of operational changes the community clearly expects.

I strongly support Chief Sloly in his efforts to restructure the Ottawa Police Service to make it more responsive to the community’s emerging needs

Cutting the OPS budget at this critical time would undermine the Chief’s efforts to renew and reform the organization.
And I want to remind members of Council that we voted, as recently as October 14, to NOT DEFUND the Ottawa Police Service. A very strong majority of members of Council voted to NOT defund the Police.

There are some who will try to undermine this decision at every turn – let’s cut a million here, a million there – as we will see today.

I would ask members of Council to please let the Chief do the job he was hired to do.

Give him, the Board, and his team, the tools they need to undertake the reforms they have committed to in a very public fashion.

I would like to thank, Chair Deans, Chief Sloly and CFO Jeff Letourneau for their stewardship and willingness to look for new ways of finding efficiencies, streamline operations around community needs and find ongoing operational savings.

Today, I want to discuss the funding going to the City’s environmental strategy.

The focus of this Energy Evolution funding will be on the implementation of energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy generation projects.

Budget 2021 also includes an additional $3 million for the Energy Management Investment Strategy.

We are also working on increasing the City’s capacity for climate resilience.

Our goal is to better position vulnerable areas against future environmental stresses.

This includes $2.5 million to implement the Ottawa River Action Plan and the Wet Weather Infrastructure Master Plan.

Budget 2021 also includes:

$300,000 for the Wild Parsnip Management Program.

$1.5 million to plant 125,000 trees; and,

In total, this budget includes just over $11 million to help us reach our GHG emission reduction targets in 2021.

Another key priority is working to plan for the demographic changes associated with our aging population.

Budget 2021 includes $3 million to remove physical accessibility barriers at existing city building and parks.

Due to COVID-19, ridership levels and transit revenues have significantly decreased – not only in Ottawa, but across the country and around the world.

In 2021, COVID-related transit pressures are estimated to be $72.8 million.

The City is anticipating provincial Safe Restart Funding to cover the first quarter gap to March 31, 2021.

Regular fares will increase by 2.5% effective January 1, because we need to stay on track with our Long-Range Financial Plan for Transit.

Ottawa’s regular fares are competitive and generally in line with other medium and large cities across Canada.

And to protect the most vulnerable for the third consecutive year, the cost of the 2021 EquiPass and Community Pass will both remain frozen at 2018 rates – an additional investment of $185,000.

I would like to remind members of Council that Ottawa’s EquiPass is one of the cheapest in Canada.

For example, Toronto’s low-income pass is $123 per month, compared to Ottawa’s at $58 dollars per month.

In fact, Toronto’s low-income pass, which costs $123 per month, is more expensive than our full-fare pass at $119 per month.

Budget 2021 increases the transit levy by 4.6%.

This represents roughly $33 for the average homeowner and is included within the overall tax cap of 3 per cent.

Three years ago, Council embarked on a plan to close the infrastructure gap in seven years.

That is why our total funding to maintain and renew tax-supported assets such as roads, sidewalks and facilities will increase by $25 million this year – bringing us to $176 million invested in 2021. That’s a 16 percent increase.

In 2021, the road resurfacing budget will increase to $45 million – up from the yearly average of $35.5 million during the last Term of Council.

The Integrated program also provides an investment of $28 million towards our road infrastructure.

Our rural infrastructure investments will reach $40 million in 2021.

Budget 2021 will also invest over $57 million for Road Growth projects – and these are essentially funded by Development Charges.

In 2021, the City will resurface, renew or rehabilitate approximately 116 kilometres of roads across the city.

Budget 2021 also includes $2 million for the Neighbourhood Traffic Calming Measures Program, with each Councillor receiving $50,000 for road safety initiatives in their community.

There is also $512,000 set aside for Pedestrian Crossovers, in order to improve the safety of pedestrians at key crossings across the city.

Budget 2021 also includes $3.7 for the Network Mortifications Program and $12 million for intersection improvements through the Intersection Control Measures.

Budget 2021 also includes funding for active transportation – with an investment in both the Ottawa Pedestrian and Cycling Plan of $12.5 million.

Budget 2021 includes $4 million for the Road Safety Action Plan.

In 2021, the City is forecasted to spend just over $1 billion on the Stage 2 LRT project.

Not everyone in Ottawa has the benefit of a high paying, full time public service job with benefits and a regular paycheck.

That is why I am so proud of our Council for maintaining our long-term commitment to invest in our infrastructure.

These investments are helping to sustain our economy during these challenging economic times – creating more than 30,000 construction jobs.

These are proud contributing members of our community who WANT to work alongside our transit operators and other frontline municipal employees.

Many of whom have continued to deliver essential services – under very challenging conditions while tens of thousands of their fellow residents are able to work from home.

Along with our investment in LRT, the City has secured funding for 4 new electric buses.

These Newflyer buses will hit the streets in the fall 2021 to test their performance across a variety of routes and weather conditions.

Again in 2021, we will continue to fund the $2.4 million ward specific Recreation Infrastructure Investment Fund allowing members of Council to invest in ward priorities.

Budget 2021 also includes $6 million in park investments.

I am proud of the continued progress on our stunning new Central Library project.

The federal fall economic statement committed additional funding to increase the environmental sustainability of the new library to net zero.

This is another example of how – working in partnership with other levels of Government – we can get more done for our City and our residents.

We also need to take an “all hands-on deck” approach to rebuilding our local economy.

Please support our small businesses through these difficult times!

Budget 2021 continues to waive patio fees for COVID-19 impacted businesses.

Our patio team will also advance a $150,000 grant program to help BIAs and business associations undertake beautification or small capital projects that will help attract customers to their business districts.

Before wrapping up I want to once again mention the incredible work of our Ottawa Public Health unit.

Budget 2021 includes $22.5 million in City funding to OPH for a total budget of $98 million.

This includes an additional $240,000 to cover inflationary pressures – allowing OPH to avoid a reduction in FTEs.

I believe we can all agree this is not the time to be cutting employees at Ottawa Public Health.

I remain committed to ensuring that OPH has the resources they need in 2021 – and I will continue to work closely with our Chair of Public Health to achieve this goal.

They need our support to maintain their emergency COVID-19 response efforts, but also to maintain the quality core services residents across Ottawa rely on to improve health outcomes.

I believe that Budget 2021 strikes the right balance of:

  • managing the COVID related risks to taxpayers and residents;
  • supporting our residents through the ongoing uncertainty by maintaining core services;
  • reducing our infrastructure gap by boosting our spending on roads, transit and active transportation infrastructure;
  • supporting our local economy with a renewed focus on the local job market through this period of recovery; and
  • caring for the most vulnerable in our community, which includes boosting our investment in affordable housing.

Budget 2021 also delivers on Council’s commitment to keep taxes at three per cent.

Once again I want to remind members of Council that there are tens of thousands of Ottawa residents who don’t have the luxury of living on six-figure incomes or pensions.

This includes new Canadians, seniors on fixed income and single moms and dads – many of whom have bought into the housing market as part of the Canadian dream of home ownership.

There are thousands of one and two-income households who have purchased a home over the course of the last 3, 5 or 10 years – and they look to us to honour the commitment we made to try to keep our City affordable.

And the single most important decision we can make in this regard is to honour the commitment we made to keep the tax increase capped at 3 per cent.

The easiest thing for us to do is to raise someone else’s taxes.

If our investments in social services were dropping significantly, one could argue the need for additional taxation to boost spending.

But our municipal investments in support of the most vulnerable are NOT dropping – they are increasing.

And when combined with the investments made by other levels of government in support of our most vulnerable, these investments are increasing quite significantly.

And I will continue to work tirelessly with Council’s support to ensure that Ottawa continues to get its fair share of available funding from upper levels of government.

This support will be critical for our economic recovery and to sustain the momentum on city building priorities such as extending LRT to Stittsville, Kanata and Barrhaven.

I look forward to the day very soon when we will be turning our attention to economic recovery and to working together to restore the jobs lost during the pandemic.

With a continued commitment from our federal and provincial partners, we can meet the challenges of the changing world in which we find ourselves.

We stand ready to return to the thriving city we all love, but we will need a sustained team effort to get there.

Thank you. Merci.


Canada to Host 2026 IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships for Men and Women in Ottawa

**Media release from Wheelchair Basketball Canada**

(OTTAWA, ONT.) Today, as the world marks International Day for Persons with Disabilities, Senator Chantal Petitclerc and Wheelchair Basketball Canada are beyond elated to announce the International Wheelchair Basketball Federation (IWBF) Wheelchair Basketball World Championships are coming to Ottawa in 2026.

Ottawa 2026 will be the largest team sport event for high-performance athletes with a disability in the world. The elite wheelchair basketball competition will be a spectacle of eye-opening athleticism, tenacity and perseverance starring the top athletes in the game. Twenty-eight teams – 16 on the men’s side and 12 on the women’s side – representing roughly 20 nations will compete for the world championship crowns.

“As a proud Canadian and decorated Paralympic champion, I am delighted to serve as the Honorary Chair for Ottawa 2026 and bolster Canada’s reputation as a leading sporting nation by hosting the greatest world championships of all-time,” said Petitclerc. “The organizing committee looks forward to delivering an unforgettable, emotionally-charged experience for athletes, stakeholders and spectators while spearheading the evolution of the game in Canada and around the world.

“Beyond the field of play, this event is about so much more than sport. In these challenging times, Ottawa 2026 represents a momentous occasion to unite the world, celebrate the resilience of the human spirit, and champion inclusion. Our vision is to host a transformational event that empowers social change by moving people to feel, think and act differently towards wheelchair basketball and people with disabilities. As we celebrate International Day of Persons with Disabilities, we believe Ottawa 2026 will move millions towards a more inclusive world through the incredible power of sport.”

Team Canada has been an absolute force in men’s and women’s wheelchair basketball, combining for 15 world championship medals at the senior and junior levels, including eight gold.

I have personally experienced the thrill of representing Canada and winning a gold medal on home soil,” said three-time Paralympian and world champion Cindy Ouellet. “As an athlete, there is no greater honour than competing at home in front of your family, friends and fellow Canadians. I am excited to see the people of Ottawa-Gatineau and the country rally behind this event. The athletic performances are sure to captivate audiences worldwide while defying traditional definitions of ability.”

“Opportunities to host the world at an event of this magnitude are rare,” said three-time Paralympic gold medallist and world champion Patrick Anderson. “Ottawa 2026 will shine a light on the game’s top athletes and give us a global platform to achieve greatness. We cannot wait to share our stories and our passion for the game to help grow the sport in Canada and around the world.”

The IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships take place every four years. Zonal qualification tournaments will take place in each of the four IWBF Zones (America, Africa, Europe and Asia Oceania) to decide which countries will join Team Canada in Ottawa.

“I’d like to congratulate Wheelchair Basketball Canada on being awarded the rights to host the 2026 IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in the City of Ottawa,” said IWBF President Ulf Mehrens. “Wheelchair Basketball Canada has a proven track record of delivering exceptional world-class events. We are excited to work with them again to take the international game of wheelchair basketball to Ottawa, to not only showcase the dynamic, fast-paced and competitive sport that is wheelchair basketball, but also to use the event to champion social change and inclusion, whether that be with a focus on health, society, or disability.”

The event is projected to unfold at Lansdowne Park inside TD Place Arena and the Aberdeen Pavilion, with additional venues at Carleton University and the University of Ottawa. The tentative dates are scheduled from August 26 to September 5, 2026. The competition will feature 94 games over 11 days.

“I am very excited that Ottawa will host the IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships in 2026, bringing the best talent from around the world to the nation’s capital,” said Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson. “This announcement is significant as I am proudly proclaiming today as International Day of Persons with Disabilities in the City of Ottawa. This exciting event will be an outstanding opportunity to showcase the athleticism and determination of the men and women competing in the Championships. I look forward to continuing the promotion of inclusivity in our community through sports.”

“Our thanks to the IWBF for entrusting Canada with the honour of hosting the world championships,” said Wheelchair Basketball Canada President Steve Bach. “Backed by our rich history of hosting excellence and the support of our funding, sport, corporate and community partners, including the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the City of Ottawa, we will host an unparalleled, world-class event while creating meaningful legacies. There is much work to do in the years ahead and we are eager to undertake this journey with all of you.”

CBC Sports and Radio-Canada will bring stories to Canadians as the official streaming partners of Ottawa 2026 IWBF Wheelchair Basketball World Championships.

Ottawa 2026 marks the first time that Canada will host the world championship for senior men and women together. Wheelchair Basketball Canada has previously hosted the IWBF Men’s World Championship (Edmonton 1994), the inaugural IWBF U23 Men’s World Championship (Toronto 1997), the inaugural IWBF U25 Women’s World Championship (St. Catharines 2011), the IWBF Women’s World Championship (Toronto 2014), and the IWBF U23 Men’s World Championship (Toronto 2017).

About Wheelchair Basketball Canada

Wheelchair Basketball Canada is the national sports governing body responsible for the organization of the sport in Canada. It is a non-profit, charitable organization that is committed to excellence in the development, support and promotion of wheelchair basketball programs and services for all Canadians from grassroots to high performance. Wheelchair basketball is a fast-paced, hard-hitting, competitive sport in which Canada is held in high esteem around the world for winning a combined six gold, one silver, and one bronze medal in the last seven Paralympic Games.

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Cleaner Ottawa River, less basement flooding: Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel now operating

At a ceremony today, the City celebrated the official start of operations of the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel, a major investment to protect the health of the Ottawa River. The event was hosted by The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities for the Government of Canada, The Honourable Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, MPP Nepean, on behalf of the Honourable Laurie Scott, Ontario’s Minister of Infrastructure for the Government of Ontario, and Mayor Jim Watson.

This is one of the most significant projects of the Ottawa River Action Plan, which is a roadmap to protect the river for future generations. Construction began in 2016 on the two interconnected tunnels, which total 6.2 kilometres. The tunnels intercept surface runoff and wastewater (called combined sewage), store it temporarily, send it for treatment at the Robert O. Pickard Environmental Centre, and return it safely to the Ottawa River. The project also includes 15 underground chambers and access shafts and four odour control facilities.

Now in operation, the Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel will significantly reduce the frequency of combined sewage overflows to the Ottawa River, bringing the City into compliance with Ontario Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks guidelines. It will reduce the volume of combined sewage overflows to the Ottawa River by up to 43,000 m3 per event – or approximately 18 Olympic-sized swimming pools – while also reducing the risk of basement flooding for approximately 7,000 residential properties in the north end of the Glebe and in Centretown. The tunnels also allow flow to be diverted from a major downtown sanitary sewer for improved inspections and maintenance on this critical infrastructure.

The Combined Sewage Storage Tunnel is a $232.3 million investment and part of the Ottawa River Action Plan. Funding was provided by the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, and the City of Ottawa. The Government of Canada and Province of Ontario each provided $62.09 million. In addition, the City contributed $108 million.

"With the CSST in operation, we have fulfilled a major goal of the Ottawa River Action Plan and strengthened Ottawa’s position as a world leader in combined sewage overflow control. We are delivering on Council’s commitment to protect our precious water resources and ensure the health and vitality of the Ottawa River for future generations."

Mayor Jim Watson 

 


Mayor's Remarks: Budget 2021 Tabling

Good morning everyone. Bonjour tout le monde.

Today we table the draft 2021Budget for public input – the City of Ottawa’s 3rd budget in this term of Council.

Aujourd’hui, nous présentons le budget 2021.

This year’s budget is being developed under extraordinary conditions.

COVID-19 has profoundly altered our fiscal reality and injected a high level of uncertainty in our budgeting efforts as a city.

The budget process mirrors, in many ways, the economic and social uncertainty that our residents have faced since the start of the pandemic.

And we enter this budget process very mindful of the devastating impact that the pandemic has had on employment levels for many of our fellow residents.

I believe that the City of Ottawa must strive to protect our city and its residents against this uncertainty and insecurity.

There are some who would want us to reduce our investments in programs and services.

Others will want us to reduce our full-time municipal workforce during the pandemic.

If we were living in times of broad economic growth and rising employment levels, it might make sense to consider strategic targeted reductions in the municipal workforce.

But let’s think this through.

Pensons-y bien.

Where are the jobs that people could apply to in this paralyzed economy?

It is important for members of Council to know that every part of the City’s workforce has been stretched to maintain the services our residents count on and to respond to the Provincial orders.

The demand on City services has not gone down with COVID – it is higher than ever.

This includes building permits, development applications, By-law enforcement, surging 311 call volumes, and increased demand for social services.

We are also witnessing unprecedented needs to be met in our Long-term care facilities, disruptions to child care services, increases in employment assistance, exploding paramedic demand, and the list goes on.

Our workforce is also not immune from the devastating impacts of Covid-19 – our employees are struggling with the same issues everyone else in our community is struggling with.

 

This includes managing kids in school, the illness or loss of loved ones, spouses or family members experiencing employment loss, or supporting ageing parents in isolation.

Here's just one practical example of how City staff are working to maintain essential services during the pandemic:

The City of Ottawa issued building permits for $3.9 billion of construction from January to October 2020, compared to $2.7 billion in the same period last year. That 45% year-over-year increase is helping to protect construction jobs and sustain our local economy through these tough pandemic times.

And so, we will continue to need our municipal employees to be able to respond quickly when we move into a post-pandemic environment.

Donc, nous aurons besoin de notre personnel plus que jamais lors de la phase poste-pandémique

I believe that the public will expect us to be at the ready when that happens.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Premier Doug Ford and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for recognizing that we need their support to sustain social solidarity in these challenging times.

Merci à Monsieur Trudeau et Monsieur Ford de leur solidarité durant ces moments difficiles.

And for recognizing that we will emerge in a better position, socially and economically, if we continue to invest in our people, in our residents, in our small businesses and in our key municipal services and programs.

Now is not the time to be cutting back on key investments that will continue to drive our prosperity and generosity as a society for the coming years.

Investments in our people, in our roads, in our facilities, in our programs and services, in our transfer payments to agencies that serve the most vulnerable.

These investments sustain and underpin our social solidarity as much as they underpin our local employment levels.

That is why I am proud of the work I have led with the City Manager, and all members of Council, to table a budget that is both prudent and balanced.

I am also proud to introduce a budget that meets the tax cap of 3% I proposed in 2018 and endorsed by Council in each of our three budgets since then.

Le débat sur le budget est la discussion la plus importante que nous avons à chaque année.

I also want to take this opportunity, early in this presentation, to thank all our city employees for keeping our core services going during these challenging pandemic times.

Thank you for ensuring that our recycling gets picked up on a regular schedule, for keeping our drinking water clean and safe and for maintaining our parks and roadways.

Thank you to our OC Transpo staff for getting residents to work safely by bus and LRT.

Merci à notre personnel d’OC Transpo de permettre à la population de se rendre au travail en toute sécurité.

Thank you for remaining vigilant and compassionate in the service of our most vulnerable residents, ensuring basic health, shelter and other needs are met.

Of course, a special thank you to our first responders for the incredible work they’ve done throughout this pandemic.

On behalf of all members of Ottawa City Council, I thank you for your continued professionalism and diligence on behalf of Ottawa residents.

Au nom de tous les membres du Conseil municipal d’Ottawa, je vous remercie.

 

I now want to provide an overview of the building blocks of the 2021 Budget.

In my remarks today, I will start by outlining where we stand from a Budget perspective at this point in time as we close out the 2020 Budget year.

I will then outline Council’s plan for strengthening our investment in housing for our most vulnerable residents.
And how we will continue to support and protect our community’s safety and our most vulnerable residents during and after the pandemic.

I will also provide an overview of how Budget 2021 follows Council’s direction to continue investing in our infrastructure.

Which is a building block of our community’s current and future success.

I will then provide an overview of how we are supporting our small businesses.

And the need for a unified, city-wide effort on this front as we head into the new year.

I will also discuss how we propose to continue to make transit affordable for both Ottawa residents and taxpayers heading into 2021.

Clearly we need to reconcile affordability for our transit passengers with the affordability of the transit system Council has decided to build over the long term.

I also want to provide an overview of how the City is expanding its efforts to protect the environment and invest in greater climate resiliency.

We will do this by supporting projects that pay for themselves through savings over time.

 

Let me start by discussing where we stand going into the 2021 budget

The City of Ottawa Draft 2021 Budget forecasts a total operating budget of $3.9 billion and a total Capital investment of $781 million.

As we review the highlights and details of the budget document, it is important that we be transparent about the assumptions and risks we are mitigating in this current budget.

As I mentioned earlier, the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario have increased financial support to municipalities in 2020, without which we would be going into a very different budget exercise.

We were notified recently that the City of Ottawa received the second round of COVID-19 funding.

This includes $74.9 million for transit and $49.3 million from the municipal stream of the restart funding.

This is a very solid down payment of $124.2 million towards our $181 million in COVID financial pressures for 2020.

To date, this represents 68 percent of our overall COVID related funding needs.

I have been reassured in my dealings with the Premier of Ontario and Transportation Minister Carolyn Mulroney that our City will be made whole on the remainder of our 2020 COVID related deficit.

I also spoke to Premier Ford about reimbursing the City for Ottawa Public Health’s essential contribution to the fight against COVID which has created a 2020 pressure of $12 million.

He assured me that the Province is supportive of helping public health units across Ontario.

Il m’a assuré que le gouvernement provincial veut appuyer les bureaux de santé dans toute la province.

Staff are preparing the Phase 2 submission to the province now.

Deficit projections have been restated to reflect lower costs and ongoing cost containment measures.

The 2021 Budget presentation from staff will outline how COVID is expected to continue impacting municipal operations.

At a high level, staff are forecasting a deficit of $153.5 million related to COVID should the pandemic last another 12 months.

Ottawa Public Health is also expecting COVID-19 to continue to have a very significant impact on its budget.

We will expect the Government of Ontario to continue supporting the City as it backstops the essential work being undertaken by our team at Ottawa Public Health.

OPH is estimating that the gap for 2021, if COVID continues for the full twelve months, could be upwards of $22.5 million.

This year’s budget forecasting work has been quite challenging given all the unknowns.

I would like to thank the City Manager and the Chief Financial Officer for their hard work on the 2021 Draft Budget.

Thanks also to the Senior Leadership team and our teams across the City, including all teams in our partner agencies, for their work on the 2021 Draft Budget.

Tomorrow, the Province of Ontario will table its 2021 budget and our staff will review and report on its impact on our City and on our municipal finances.

I want to remind Members of Council, and residents watching today, that Ottawa has maintained  AAA credit rating as a result of its strong Financial Management, despite these very challenging economic times.

 

 

I now want to talk about how Budget 2021 strengthens our investment in housing and supports our most vulnerable residents while keeping our residents safe.

Increasing house prices, job losses as a result of COVID and the constraints imposed by social distancing.

These have resulted in an increase in the number of homelessness and a significant increase in the number of people at risk of homelessness.

Seniors, the working poor, newcomers and others on fixed incomes are disproportionally impacted.

I am pleased to announce that the 2021 Budget includes a $15 million investment in affordable housing.

Je suis fier de cet investissement dans le logement abordable dans notre ville.

This brings the City’s total capital contribution to $45 million since 2019.

I am also pleased to say that $5 million of the $15 million investment is an increase to the Affordable Housing base budget.

This is in addition to the $1 million base budget increase in 2020.

We can anticipate that the City’s contribution of $15 million will leverage at least the equivalent amount of new federal and provincial investment.

This is expected to result in the creation of up to 250 new supportive and affordable housing units.

This increased base budget will contribute $60 million in new funding over ten years.

We expect this amount to be topped up by $10 million from projected development charge revenues and $10 million from the sale of surplus land.

Obviously, the City of Ottawa cannot go it alone in the fight against homelessness.

De toute évidence, la Ville d’Ottawa ne peut mener seule la lutte contre l’itinérance.

On September 10, 2020, Ottawa Community Housing received the largest single investment in affordable housing in its history from the Federal Government.

Thanks to a mortgage of $168 million from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Ottawa Community Housing will build Gladstone Village, which is about 700 new units.

This investment will create over 200 affordable rental units close to public transit – complete with community and support services.

The City is also working on a proposal for 1010 Somerset Street West for greenspace and community supports for Gladstone Village.

We hope to have an announcement on this property early in the New Year.

We recently received notification from Minister Hussen, that Ottawa has been allocated $32 million through the Rapid Housing Initiative.

This funding will target rapid housing solutions to meet those most in need across our community.

This new funding brings the City’s total commitment to $47 million for 2021 for the construction of new affordable units.

We will also be funding $33 million going to housing and homelessness agencies in 2021.

This amount will support case management, housing loss prevention and operating funding for supportive housing.

When you factor in the City’s operating spending of $112 million in support of housing, and the $47 million in new Capital funding, the city will spend a historic amount in 2021.

That’s a total investment of $159 million to build and support affordable housing and other homelessness initiatives.

I look forward to working closely with all Members of Council on providing more housing for the most vulnerable members of our community.

With a cost of living increase of $485,000, the Community Funding Program will benefit from a total investment of over $25 million.

This amount will go to support community non-profit social service providers who deliver valuable services to residents facing the greatest needs across the city.

Budget 2021 also includes $500,000 to fund agencies as we transition to the new Community Funding framework.

Cette revue du financement communautaire mènera à des recommandations plus tard en 2021, et j’ai hâte d’en voir les résultats.

In addition, the City has invested in emergency funding to community agencies for COVID related expenses and emergency programs.

That’s a total envelope of just under $500,000 to respond to COVID related needs.

The childcare and early years sector in Ottawa has been drastically impacted by the high rates of COVID-19 in our community.

The City of Ottawa is grateful to its Provincial and Federal partners for the investments received to date in our response against COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 impacts continue to evolve, additional supports will be required.

This will ensure the continued sustainability of the child care and early years sector and assist in the economic recovery of Ottawa and Ontario.

It is hard to speak about COVID-19 without thinking about the devastating impact this pandemic has had on seniors.

Especially seniors living in long term care homes.

Surtout les aînés en soins de longue durée.

I want to thank Dean Lett, the City’s Director of Long-Term Care and his incredible team.

Their commitment and dedication to the residents in their care is unrelenting.

Since the start of the pandemic, our Long-Term Care team has implemented safety protocols to prevent the spread of the infection in the homes.

Staffing levels have been increased, and enhanced infection prevention and control measures are now in place.

I would like to send a special shout out to all the dedicated employees of our long-term care homes.

Without your dedication and perseverance there is little doubt that the situation in Ottawa could have been much worse.

To support your work Budget 2021 includes the following investments:

Over $9 million will be invested in staffing, PPE and infection control to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The City is also providing $7.5 million for renovations, equipment and accessibility improvements to its four Long-Term Care Homes.

This will support the safety, care and comfort of residents.

Budget 2021 also delivers on Council’s commitment to investing in the safety of our residents.

Nous faisons d’autres investissements importants pour garder notre communauté en sécurité.

The City needs more paramedics to keep pace with our fast-growing city and to keep our response times in line with current standards.

At the start of this term of Council, I promised to work with Council to hire 54 additional paramedics over the next four years.

Budget 2021 provides funding to hire 14 new front-line paramedics, the 3rd installment on our 4-year goal.

In partnership with the Ottawa Hospital, our community paramedics have also been deployed to the “Red Zones” in Long-Term Care Homes across the city that are in active outbreak.

Budget 2021 also includes $7.5 million to build a new fire station in Kanata North and $2 million to build a paramedic deployment facility in the west-end.

Earlier today, the Ottawa Police Service tabled their draft budget that comes in at 3% on the tax side, plus 1.5% in new assessment growth dollars.

The OPS is a vital partner working alongside Ottawa Public Health, Community and Social Services, and other external organizations.

Working together we can to better address issues like mental health, poverty and community supports.

I agree that community safety is a shared responsibility.

As a society we need to take a more holistic approach to solving crime and addressing social issues.

That is why the OPS and the City have been working together to shift the focus towards expanding community-led health and safety initiatives.

The City and OPS are also actively refining our Community Safety and Wellbeing Plan.

This plan will seek to address the more deeply rooted causes of crime; focus on prevention; leverage partnerships; and take a multi-faceted approach to community safety.

The Community Safety and Well-Being Plan aligns ongoing initiatives to achieve outcomes and tangible results. The Plan includes the:

  • Housing and Homelessness Plan;
  • Child and Early Years Strategy;
  • Community Funding Framework;
  • Mental Health Strategy;
  • Women and Gender Equity;
  • Race and Veterans;
  • Social Assistance Modernization;
  • Poverty Reduction;
  • Food Security; and the,
  • Priority Neighbourhoods Strategy.

The draft 2021 Budget maintains support for the addition of 85 new police officers approved for this term.

The OPS expects to see 30 new officers join the service in 2021.

I would like to thank Chief Sloly and the new CFO, Jeff Letourneau for their budget stewardship.

Merci à vous trois pour votre leadership durant ce processus budgétaire.

I and many members of Council are impressed by their willingness to look for new ways of finding efficiencies, streamline operations around community needs and find ongoing savings.

 

 

Budget 2021 is also about investing in our infrastructure for future prosperity.

Funding to maintain and renew assets such as roads, sidewalks and City facilities will increase by $25 million this year – bringing us to $171 million invested in 2021.

The existing infrastructure funding gap will be fully addressed within seven years.

Instead of the projected 10 years – while adding no new debt.

As Members of Council, we hear consistently from our residents that they want us to invest in our city’s roads and infrastructure.

La condition de nos routes et de notre infrastructure est une priorité dans toutes nos communautés.

That’s why in 2021, the road resurfacing budget will increase to $45 million – up from the yearly average of $35.5 million over the last Term of Council.

This investment in road resurfacing includes:

Hunt Club Road westbound from Paul Anka Drive to Airport Parkway in River Ward;

  • L’avenue Kilborn à Alta Vista;
  • Blanchfield Road in Osgoode;
  • Fallowfield Road from Southwest Transitway to Woodroffe Avenue in Barrhaven;
  • La rue St. Georges à Orléans; and
  • Merivale Road, from Slack to Viewmount Drive, and West Hunt Club, from Merivale Road to Antares Drive, in Knoxdale-Merivale, to name a few.

Our rural infrastructure investments will reach $40 million in 2021, up from the four-year average of $39.7 million.

Some of our rural investments include:

  • $4.1 million to repave Bank Street between Marionville and Mitch Owens roads;
  • $2.7 million to repave River Road between Flag Station and Mitch Owens roads;
  • $2.5 million to build 27 drainage culverts in Osgoode;
  • $2.3 million to construct 43 drainage culverts;
  • $2 million to upgrade the Carp Wastewater Pumping Station; and
  • $1.6 million to repave Thomas A. Dolan Parkway between Dunrobin and Sixth Line roads in West Carleton-March.

 

Budget 2021 also invests over $57 million for road growth projects, which are funded almost entirely by development charges. Examples include:

  • $9.7 million to widen Strandherd Drive between Maravista Drive and Jockvale Road;
  • $7.3 million to widen the Airport Parkway from Brookfield to Hunt Club; and
  • $18.9 million to widen Bank Street between Leitrim and Dun Skipper Drive.

 

Budget 2021 will allow the City to resurface, renew or rehabilitate approximately 116 kilometres of roads across the city.

We know that Ottawa has one of the largest municipal transportation networks in Canada.

City teams regularly clear 6,000 kilometres of roads and 2,300 kilometres of sidewalks throughout the city.

I am pleased to say that the Winter Operations budget now reflects the latest 3-year average actuals for the period from 2016 to 2018 – for a total of just over $81 million.

This year more than ever, we will need to encourage people to get outside and enjoy winter.

Cette année plus que jamais, nous devrons encourager les gens à sortir et à profiter de l’hiver.

That is why I am pleased that the City will again provide over $35,000 to the Winter Trails Alliance for distribution to its members.

We expect that their partnership with the NCC will contribute another $25,000 for ski and snowshoe trails.

Budget 2021 also includes $2 million for Neighbourhood Traffic Calming Measures.

Each Councillor will receive $50,000 for road safety initiatives in their community.

There is also $512,000 set aside for Pedestrian Crossovers, which will help us improve the safety of pedestrians at key crossings across the city.

Budget 2021 also includes $12 million for intersection improvements.

The Intersection Control Measures program, which delivers new traffic signals and addresses safety concerns in growth areas.

Revenue from the Automated Speed Enforcement cameras is budgeted at $6 million.

And an increase of $1.8 million is expected to be generated by 10 additional red-light cameras.

$1.2 million of this revenue will be transferred to the Ottawa Police Service budget in 2021.

The remainder will be invested in road safety initiatives already approved as part of the Road Safety Action Plan.

As you know, Automated Speed Enforcement cameras have been in place since we launched the pilot project in mid-July.

There is a total of eight sites – all located near schools – and four cameras are currently used to enforce speed restrictions.

By the end of September, over 37,000 tickets had been issued, which could generate upwards of $3.1 million for the City.

At the request of myself and the City Manager, Transportation Services have been asked to purchase four additional cameras.

These will be deployed at the outstanding locations in the coming months.

The revenue generated from these four cameras will be reinvested into road safety measures – including priority intersection improvements.

Ce projet pilote connaît beaucoup de succès et nous permet d’investir davantage dans la sécurité routière.

Budget 2021 also includes:

  • A $4 million investment towards the Road Safety Action Plan
  • $2.4 million for the New Traffic Control Devices Program;
  • $806,000 for the Temporary Traffic Calming Measures Program
  • $512,000 towards the Pedestrian Crossover Program;
  • Over $1 million for the Safety Improvement Program;
  • $389,000 for Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Program; and
  • $107,000 towards the Cycling Safety Improvement Program.

Again, this year, Budget 2021 includes funding for active transportation – with an investment in both the Pedestrian and Cycling Plans of $12.5 million.

This includes:

  • $5 million for cycling facilities;
  • Just under $3 million for pedestrian facilities;
  • $2.5 million for cycling and pedestrian major structures; and
  • $1.2 million to connect missing links.

The City is also investing in parks, recreational and community facilities including:

  • the Blackburn Arena Expansion in Innes Ward;
  • Laroche Park in Kitchissippi;
  • the Corkery Community Building expansion in West Carleton-March;
  • the Cobble Hill Park redevelopment and expansion in Barrhaven;
  • Riverchase Park in Kanata-North; and
  • The Riverain Park redevelopment in Rideau-Vanier… just to name a few.

 

Again in 2021, we will continue to fund the $2.4 million ward-specific Recreation Infrastructure Investment Fund.

This fund provides each Member of Council with a total of $100,000 to be used for the remainder of this term of Council.

Budget 2021 also includes $6 million in park investments, supporting projects such as:

  • the new gazebo at McNabb Park;
  • new sports lights at Kars Recreation Centre, and;
  • new asphalt for tennis courts in Carson Grove Park.

Budget 2021 also includes $100,000 to complete a preliminary design.

And to undertake community consultations for the Beacon Hill North Community Centre expansion.

Budget 2021 also invests $500,000 to advance the planning for a new East Urban Library Branch to be located in Cumberland Ward.

Our City’s vibrancy also relies on the key investments made by small businesses in our communities.

As we can all witness in our respective neighbourhood, small businesses invest in significant ways.

They bring our main streets to life and turn them into the dynamic gathering places we have come to know.

But we know main street businesses have been hard hit by this pandemic and they need our help.

Through our work with the Economic Partners Task Force, the City has put in place several measures to help small businesses throughout the pandemic.

And that work is ongoing.

 

 

Supporting our local businesses will be even more important in the months ahead.

At the October 28 Council meeting, we approved a waiver of building permit fees required for a patio tent structure

This is intended to allow restaurants to provide alternative dining arrangements while indoor dining is restricted.

Consistent with Council direction this past summer, we are proposing that monthly patio fees remain at zero dollars in 2021.

This takes into account the severe impact of COVID-19 on restaurants and shops.

This foregone patio revenue is included in the overall COVID-19 pressures.

Following the presentation of the Winter Patio Program at Transportation Committee on Monday, our patio team will soon be launching a $150,000 grant program.

This will help BIAs and business associations deploy beautification or small capital projects to help them attract customers to their business districts.

As we head into the late fall and winter, I want to remind everyone of the importance of shopping local.

Please support our small businesses through these difficult times!

Je vous en prie – appuyez nos petites entreprises lors de cette periode difficile!

We should all go out of our way to shop in local and family-owned businesses – who need our support now more than ever.

Over the course of the coming weeks and months, we will need to chart a course for returning our city to prosperity.

For creating an environment that leaves no one behind in our attempts to bring back the jobs lost during the pandemic.

In the first few weeks of 2021, I will call on all members of Council and City partners to join in this united effort to rebuild our city’s economy.

This will require new ways of thinking, as well as unprecedented collaboration with our economic development partners and other levels of government.

We will need to take an “all hands-on deck” approach to rebuilding our local economy.

What is becoming clearer is that we must stay in lock step with our provincial and federal partners not only on the pandemic response.

For years to come we must work together on the much-needed economic stimulus and recovery plan that will be required to get our local economy firing on all cylinders again.

This is not about a flashy slogan or nice statistics.

It’s about striving to support our local businesses and ensuring that there are economic opportunities for all workers as we exit this pandemic.

 

 

Protecting the environment and investing in greater climate resiliency are an important cornerstone of our 2021 budget.

We all know that building safer and resilient communities requires a balanced approach to spending.

It’s also about planning for the future.

Il faut évidemment planifier pour l’avenir.

That is why the City recently carried an environmental strategy that targets an 80% reduction in GHG emissions by 2050.

With a contribution of $2.6 million provided through the Hydro Ottawa dividend, $11 million will be provided to support Energy Evolution.

Leveraging federal and provincial funds, the focus will be on energy efficiency, conservation and renewable energy generation projects.

The goal is to invest in projects where the initial investment is repaid over time by the annual energy efficiency savings.

The City’s highly successful partnership with Ottawa Hydro for the replacement of the City’s street lights with energy efficient LED lighting is a shining example.

Budget 2021 includes an additional $3 million for the Energy Management Investment Strategy for a total investment of $12 million over the term of Council.

We are also working on increasing the City’s capacity for climate resilience.

This includes $2.5 million to implement the Ottawa River Action Plan and the Wet Weather Infrastructure Master Plan.

Budget 2021 also includes $300,000 for the Wild Parsnip Management Program.

There is also $1.5 million to plant 125,000 trees and $1.2 million for solid-waste projects, including expanding the recycling in parks pilot.

 

 

I now want to touch on how we keep transit affordable while paying for and investing in the transit system we want

As a result of COVID, ridership and transit revenues have decreased significantly – not only in Ottawa, but across the country and around the world.

Cette année, nos services de transport en commun font face à de nouveaux défis.

This has created a 2020 transit shortfall of $123.7 million.

This deficit has been offset by $1.5 million in government funding to help pay for the cost of enhanced cleaning for buses and trains.

As well as $74.9 million in Phase 1 funding from the Safe Restart Fund.

The City is applying for Phase 2 Safe Restart funding for the remainder of 2020.

We are anticipating that provincial Safe Restart Funding will cover the first quarter to March 31, 2021.

Fares will not increase in 2020, given Council’s directive earlier this year to freeze fares until LRT service improved markedly.

This fare freeze has resulted in a base budget pressure of $5.1 million in 2021.

To address this budget pressure using transit revenue, we would’ve had to increase fares by more than 5% in 2021.

This would disproportionately have hurt frontline workers who most need transit to get to work and to appointments during the pandemic.

We didn’t think that was a fair approach during these difficult times for so many vulnerable residents.

And that’s also why the cost of the EquiPass and Community Pass will both remain frozen at 2018 rates for the third consecutive year.

That’s an additional investment of $185,000 in affordable transit.

Regular fares will increase by 2.5% effective January 1, because we need to stay on track with our Long-Range Financial Plan for Transit.

This is our blueprint for making long-term investments in sustainable transit that the City can afford.

And I want to remind Council colleagues and residents about the largest single investment we are making in transit.

Our $4.6 billion investment in Stage 2 LRT.

We will spend just over $1 billion in 2021 on the construction of Stage 2.

This will bring the benefits of LRT south to Limebank and the Airport, east to Trim, and west to Moodie Drive and Algonquin College.

We will also be investing in other important transit capital projects.

Budget 2021 includes:

  • $13 million to improve Blair and Tunney’s Pasture stations;
  • $6 million for bus operator barriers to enhance the safety of our drivers;
  • $3 million to modify roads, signals and other traffic measures to improve bus reliability;
  • $1 million to install new bus pads, shelters and other improvements at bus stops; and
  • $500,000 to improve accessibility features across the transit system.

 

Before I conclude today’s remarks, I would like to say a few words about Ottawa Public Health.

This includes the work that the City of Ottawa has undertaken to protect our residents against the pandemic.

That work is shared across thousands of employees and hundreds of work units across the City.

Because of the broad range of municipal services that have been impacted by COVID-19.

It is difficult to describe the incredible work that the OPH team has spearheaded in 2020 to keep us safe and informed.

The close collaboration with our City Manager and Senior Leadership team and partner agencies has been impressive to say the least.

On behalf of Ottawa City Council, I want to once again thank Dr. Vera Etches, our Medical Officer of Health.

Thank you to her team for their outstanding work and for your unwavering dedication to our collective safety in these challenging times.

I also want to thank our City Manager Steve Kanellakos, who has provided exceptional leadership during these exceptionally challenging times.

This pandemic has forced many of us to make very difficult personal decisions.

Decisions about putting our children in school.

Hard choices about the living situation of our aging parents.

Many small business owners have had to make heart-wrenching decisions about letting employees go.

Plusieurs ont malheureusement dû fermer leurs portes.

Some have unfortunately had to make the very difficult decision of closing down.

The pandemic has caused us to reach out in new ways to vulnerable people in our lives.

It has changed how we work, behave, socialize and interact.

La pandémie a changée presque chaque aspect de nos vies.

I am convinced that Dr. Etches and her team, in close collaboration with the City of Ottawa team, have provided the best evidence-based advice.

I know that they are very aware of the huge ramifications of their recommendations on the lives of all our residents.

I want to thank Councillor Keith Egli for his leadership of our Board of Health.

He has proven to be a strong advocate for OPH through these tumultuous times.

I’m under the impression that he might be thinking that this mandate is a little broader than he bargained for when he agreed to chair OPH.

I also want to once again convey Council’s strong support for OPH’s Budget position.

This was clearly outlined at their Board meeting on Monday, November 2.

It will come as no surprise to anyone listening today that this is not a normal year for the Public Health budget.

Let’s break this down into three key pieces.

Firstly, OPH is currently awaiting confirmation that their forecasted $12 million dollar over-expenditure for 2020 will be fully funded by the province.
We hope to see language in the provincial budget tomorrow reconfirming that this support is forthcoming.

I raised this issue directly with Premier Ford last week and he reassured me that the Province supports public health here in Ottawa and across the Province.

Secondly, OPH expects to continue to have to absorb significant COVID-19 related costs into 2021.

The OPH board was briefed on the projected 2021 budget impact on Monday evening, which currently stands at $22.5 million.

As was discussed at the October 14 Council meeting, it is my intention to continue working closely with Keith Egli as Chair of OPH.

Together, we will work with all members of Council to ensure that the Province honours its commitment to fully reimburse the City for the COVID related expenses we incurred in 2020 and for those expenses we will incur in 2021.

Until this happens, the City will continue to backstop OPH’s expenditure levels required to continue to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Thirdly, the OPH Board was also advised on Monday that OPH has had to prioritize the COVID response over the delivery of its other core services in 2020.

I am convinced that all members of Council support the Board’s approach to start to ramp up and reinforce the delivery of OPH core services to prevent negative health impacts.

Concurrently, it is important for all members of Council to know that Budget 2021 provides OPH with an additional base adjustment of $240,000.

This will allow OPH to undertake the 2021 fiscal year without having to reduce its FTE count.

I believe we can all agree this is not the time to be cutting employees at Ottawa Public Health.

I also want Members of Council to know that Chair Egli and I will engage with the Province of Ontario on this issue.

We need a clear signal from the Province that it is prepared to fund appropriate base increases to OPH’s budget now and into the future.

 

Concluding Remarks

Since I was elected Mayor, I have made a commitment to the residents of Ottawa to keep taxes low.

To keep our city affordable, and to invest in our infrastructure.

And most importantly, to care for our most vulnerable residents.

Never in my history as Mayor has this been more important and never has it required a greater level of resolve to achieve.

Je suis fier d’avoir respecté mes engagements envers les contribuables au cours des dix dernières années.

I am proud that we have worked especially hard on this prudent, affordable and balanced budget.

A budget that responsibly manages the risks associated with COVID-19.

The three-per-cent tax increase amounts to an extra $115 for the average urban homeowner.

And $88 for the average rural homeowner.

We have all heard from residents – and I believe they are prepared to contribute a modest increase to improve our transit, and to maintain our infrastructure.

To build for the future and to provide services that keep residents safe.

I think that Budget 2021 strikes the right balance in meeting Council’s approved priorities.

With Council’s support, I will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that Ottawa continues to secure its fair share of funding from upper levels of government.

This includes moving forward on city building priorities.

Such as extending LRT to Kanata, Stittsville, and Barrhaven.

On multiple city-wide Term of Council priorities such as roads, housing and the environment.

And the funding required to weather the current pandemic.

I also believe this budget has enough built-in flexibility to mitigate the uncertainty of what may come in the year ahead.

I am certain that most if not all members of Council accept that there is some degree of risk inherent in our 2021 budgeting exercise.

No one can accurately predict how soon the COVID19 pandemic will end.

Nor how it will impact the City’s economy and finances into the future.

I am convinced that you will agree that nothing is more important than maintaining our core services.

Perhaps more importantly now is the time to keep our collective eye on those most in need across our communities.

I want to thank all residents and Members of Council who contributed ideas to the Budget 2021 process.

Over the last few weeks, ward consultations have occurred on the budget.

We have heard from many residents regarding a wide range of often competing budget priorities.

More so than any other year, residents are realistic about the City’s fiscal capacity.

They know we must set a limit to the number of priorities we can achieve.

And they want us to live within our means.

This has not been the typical consultation process and I think we all miss the face to face dialogue on these critical issues.

Merci à tous nos résidents qui ont contribué au processus budgétaire 2021.

I also want to thank all the Chairs, Vice-Chairs and Committee members for their input to date.

Thank you for the work ahead to facilitate your budgets at your committee.

Merci à tous les conseillers pour leurs idées et leur participation importante à ce processus budgétaire.

I would like to thank my own team in the Mayor’s Office for working closely with:

  • the City Manager;
  • our new Chief Financial Officer, Wendy Stephanson on Budget 2021; and
  • all members of Council on the Budget 2021 proposal.

The year ahead poses challenges and contains many unknowns, but I believe that prudent financial stewardship has made our city resilient.

With the support of our residents and a continued commitment from our federal and provincial partners.

We are on solid footing as we work together to meet the challenges of the drastically changed world in which we live.

I will now pass it over to the City Manager. Steve, over to you.

Thank you. Merci.


Letter from Dr. Vera Etches to Mayor Watson: Public Health Recommendations

I am writing to recommend a new approach to the COVID-19 pandemic, to protect the health of the population of Ottawa. The current harms to health arising from societal disruption are significant and the measures to limit COVID-19 transmission in Ottawa must be sustainable and balanced following the end of the modified stage 2 restrictions implemented by the province on October 10, 2020. The approach I am recommending is that we learn to coexist with COVID, with care.

The goals of the response to the pandemic continue to be to minimize hospitalizations and death, as well as societal disruption. The rate of people testing positive for COVID-19 and the viral load measured in our wastewater started to stabilize during the second half of October. This suggests that the efforts of the people of Ottawa to keep distanced from people outside their households, wear masks indoors and also outdoors when proper distancing is not possible, keep their hands clean and stay home when they are sick are making a difference. The modified stage 2 closures reduced the incidence of close contacts in higher risk settings and supported declining levels of virus in the community. Going forward, the emphasis must remain on the importance of individuals doing their part with businesses reopening.
The rationale for continuing measures to limit COVID-19 transmission includes: the per cent of people testing positive for COVID-19 has not declined and is still sitting at 2.7%, with some areas of the city with even higher rates; the number of outbreaks remains high, leading to hospitalizations and deaths; and the potential for rapid virus spread remains if we let our guard down and become complacent, given the ongoing widespread incidence of the virus and the lack of any significant population immunity.

The rationale to adjust measures to enable businesses to open or ramp up their operations includes some signs that the majority of people in Ottawa are and will do their part to limit COVID-19 transmission as asked when the situation is serious; negative impacts on the health of the population from the unemployment and closure of businesses resulting from the pandemic; and peoples’ need to have supports that will help them live with COVID-19 through the winter and for the foreseeable future at a time when reported mental health challenges are high and there is no end in sight for the pandemic.

Little evidence exists to determine the right balance between COVID-19 control measures and supporting economic activity to keep people employed and mitigate mental health and other harms, though Ottawa Public Health (OPH) monitors situations and practices world-wide. Data collected during our case and contact management processes recently indicates that we have some significant blind spots occurring in situations not covered by provincial or municipal regulations. We continue to see problem areas such as the public gathering with extended family and larger friend circles, as well as socializing before or after playing a team sport, or travelling to or from a sports practice without wearing a mask. Similarly, school return has added transmission pressure particularly in relation to socializing on the way to and from school and other activities ancillary to school. We also see that transmission can occur in bars, restaurants and during physical activity in enclosed spaces without mask use.

Transmission of COVID-19 will occur in any setting if given the opportunity. A large part of the solution to managing these risks lies with modifying our behaviours. The risk is higher wherever people are less than two metres apart from each other and not wearing masks. Within closed spaces, even these measures will not prevent all COVID-19 transmission. People are gathering in closed spaces, in close contact without masks across our community, including at home with non-household members.

In discussions with members of our community, we have received feedback on the specific behaviours that residents of Ottawa feel are putting the community at higher risk of resurgence. On the Engage Ottawa platform – an online portal to engage with residents – people reported that dining indoors; attending indoor events with a maximum of 50 people; going to a bar or nightclub; and attending an indoor party or gathering at a friend's home were of particular concern. There are examples and reports of larger gatherings in private settings where no COVID-19 control measures were in place. Thus, another rationale for opening businesses is as a harm reduction approach, to minimize private or underground gatherings of higher risk where there is not oversight and, too often, no COVID-19 mitigation controls in place to minimize transmission.

Ottawa Public Health has collected input to inform recommendations about COVID-19 control measures from stakeholders, including populations at higher risk (such as long-term care home stakeholders, newcomers and racialized communities), hospitals, business associations, industry leaders, other city departments, and members of the public by email, petition and on social media.

Work with community partners to better identify and address needs of racialized and low-income communities is critical and is progressing. I am thankful for the many partners, including the city, engaged in this work.
I have looked at the levels of unemployment resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic response, indicators of the mental health of our community, and the challenges arising from a backlog in surgical and medical procedures and I am concluding that more needs to be done to enable people to return to more of the usual supports and services in their lives.
Similar to how schools are able to be open with precautions in place, businesses should be able to open with precautions in place. People should be able to learn to live with COVID-19, with caution.
Using the information available at this point in time, I recommend the following public health measures be considered by the province to be implemented in Ottawa from November 7, 2020, for the foreseeable future, with ongoing monitoring and evaluation:
Communications
• Ensure that changes between Stages are announced at least two (2) business days before enactment to give business operators time to prepare.
• Promote messaging that the three Cs (crowded places; close-contact settings, especially where people have close-range conversations; and confined/enclosed spaces with poor ventilation) highlight where risk of transmission of COVID-19 is highest and what should be avoided.
• Discontinue messaging on “social circles” and “bubbles”. The communications of keeping close contact to people in our households plus 1 to 2 people who provide essential social support should be used instead, to ensure consistency and so that everyone understands the central importance of keeping the number of close contacts small to minimize the chance of exposure to COVID-19.
• Increase awareness throughout the province about when individuals should wear masks and how to wear masks properly (over the nose and mouth).
• Increase provincial education regarding 2-metre distancing, hand hygiene and isolating when symptomatic.
• Encourage workplaces to continue supporting employees to work from home or transition employees to work from home to decrease community transmission where possible.
Masks
• Require mask use indoors at all times and in all settings and outdoors when physical distancing is a challenge when interacting with those outside of the household.

o In addition to cohorting and protective barriers, and regardless of 2-metre distancing, masks must be worn whenever individuals are interacting or sharing a space with coworkers, at all times in all work settings indoors and even outdoors when physical distancing is a challenge).
• Provide official provincial guidance regarding the construction of cloth masks (materials and design). Currently the public is not adequately protected from mask that are poorly constructed, especially those with poor filterability, breathability, and fit.
Restaurants, bars and nightclubs and event spaces
• Align criteria for indoor gathering limits no matter the venue (restaurants, conference centres, meeting and event spaces) to require that there is always enough space between patrons from different parties.
• Require patrons wear a mask when interacting with a server or any staff and when leaving their table and when not in the process of eating or drinking.
• Encourage hand sanitizer be made available at each table to facilitate hand hygiene before and after handling one’s mask.
• Continue with current regulations: No person shall dance, sing or perform music at the establishment except where stated in ONTARIO REGULATION 364/20.
• Encourage businesses to provide safer spaces for staff breaks and ask staff to not socialize in workplaces beyond work hours without precautions.
• Ensure venues are open long enough to avoid promoting gathering in less-controlled spaces.
Gyms and fitness centres
• Require a minimum physical distance of (2m) during activities.
• Require masking in all gym and fitness centres at all times for staff and patrons.
Team sports
• For team sports, continue to support that no scrimmages or games take place.
• Limit access to locker rooms, clubhouses, and other amenities to washrooms, emergency aid and equipment management.
• Limit pre/post group activity and gatherings (carpooling, team meals, in parking lots etc.), and encourage mask use whenever possible during play (use should always be mandatory outside of play or practice).
• Prohibit coaching and training staff from rotating across various teams or cohorts of players and enable a larger number of people on the ice to facilitate cohorting with one group of coach and training staff.
Personal Service Settings (PSS)
• Require businesses to operate by appointment only and record each patron’s name and contact information.
• Require that staff wear medical grade masks and face shields.

Measures (such as regular masking, proper distancing, hand hygiene, and minimizing social contacts) require hard work and personal sacrifice. They are the small price we must all pay in order to prevent COVID-19 transmission and maintain and improve economic activity to avoid further harms caused from unemployment and increasing mental distress. I believe the people of Ottawa can learn to coexist with COVID, with care.

Thank you for your consideration. As always, I am available to further discuss these measures at any time.

Sincerely,
Dr. Vera Etches
Medical Officer of Health, Ottawa


Elgin Street Renewal Video

I am so excited to celebrate the completion of Elgin Street, a pedestrian destination with wider sidewalks, beautiful landscaping, buried hydro and more! Thanks to everyone who was involved in this important project. #ElginStreetRenewal #IDigElgin #MyOttawa

Click here for the video!


Inductees announced for the 2020 Order of Ottawa and Brian Kilrea Award for Excellence in Coaching

Mayor Watson, with members of the selection committee, chose 15 residents to recognize with the 2020 Order of Ottawa, and one to receive the Brian Kilrea Award for Excellence in Coaching.

The 2020 inductees are Rev. Dr. Anthony Bailey, Donald Ross Bradley, Dale Craig, Dr. Rouba Fattal, Sylvio A. Gravel, Paul Hindo, Barry J. Hobin, Barbara MacKinnon, Fiona McKean, Bob Monette, David H. O'Malley, Bruce G. Roney, Bharat Rudra, Vineet Srivastava and Joe M. Thottungal. Jean-Sorphia Guillaume received the Brian Kilrea Award for Excellence in Coaching, which recognizes the contributions of an amateur coach who exemplifies leadership and commitment.

This year’s Order of Ottawa ceremony has been cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic and recipients will be honoured officially at a ceremony in 2021.

The Order of Ottawa recognizes exceptional residents who have made a significant contribution in a professional capacity in many areas of city life, including arts and culture, business, community service, education, entrepreneurship, public service, labour, communications and media, science, sports and entertainment, or other fields that benefit the residents of Ottawa.

Mayor Watson and City Council established this prestigious civic award in 2012. Recipients are chosen by a selection committee comprised of the Mayor, City Clerk, Chief of Police, Chief of Protocol, City Archivist and Chief Executive Officer of the Ottawa Public Library.

For more information about the Order of Ottawa, please visit the Awards and Recognition page on ottawa.ca.

Biographies of recipients

“These are challenging times for everyone, and it is important to acknowledge the contributions of people in our community who are making a difference in the lives of others through their professional accomplishments,” said Mayor Jim Watson. “The 2020 inductees into the Order of Ottawa are a group of tremendously accomplished residents whose leadership, creativity and hard work serve as an inspiration for us all.”
Mayor Jim Watson, City of Ottawa


City further clarifies provincial restrictions impact on recreation activities and rentals

Ottawa – The City has received additional details on the Provincial modified stage-two restrictions and is providing a further update on impacts to its recreation activities and rentals – especially around the gathering limitations of 10 people indoors and 25 outdoors. Furthermore, masks must be worn in all facilities.

As outlined on Friday, the new restrictions have resulted in the closure of fitness and weight rooms and stopping all drop-in fitness classes and many indoor team sporting activities. Instructional recreation programs have been cancelled, with the exception of modified swimming lessons. While team sports using City facilities are limited to practices and drills, they must also restrict the number of participants to 25 outdoors and 10 indoors – a total number that includes both players and coaches. Public skating and skating lessons in indoor arenas have been suspended.

Arenas limited to 10 participants, changerooms closed
Only 10 participants are permitted at an arena for team practices or drills, including coaches. In addition, no spectators are allowed and the use of dressing rooms are restricted for storage and first-aid use only.

Don’t travel outside red zone for fitness or team play
Both the provincial government and public health authorities are asking all residents to limit travel – especially to locations that are situated outside the code-red area. To limit the risk of spreading COVID-19 to areas where case counts are low, people and sporting teams are urged not to travel to other cities or locations for team play or fitness activities.

Swimming activities continue
Public and lane swimming, as well as swimming lessons, can continue under the recent regulations, but with limited participation numbers and under an advance reservation system. Change rooms will remain open for showering and changing. Reservations will continue online and can be made up to two days in advance. Masks need to be worn throughout the facility and on the pool deck, but can be removed when entering the water.

Racquet sports – badminton, tennis, squash and racquetball
Racquet sports where the participants are on opposite sides of a court, like tennis, pickle ball and badminton, are restricted to single play only. Conversely, racquetball and squash will not be allowed, as both involve two players playing in close proximity in an enclosed room.

Outdoor basketball courts, ball diamonds, pitches and football fields remain available for training and practice only and with a maximum attendance of 25 people.

Meeting and event rentals limited to 10 inside, 25 outside
The new gathering restrictions of 10 indoors and 25 outdoors also apply to rentals at City facilities for meetings and functions. Room rentals will be limited to a maximum of 10 people. Smaller rooms may be restricted to fewer people to ensure two-metre distancing between each participant.

The only exception to the above is for indoor religious ceremonies or services where the number of participants will be based on 30 per cent of the room capacity and participants maintaining a two-metre distance from each other. For both indoor and outdoor events, table sittings must be limited to no more than six people.
The City recognizes the social, physical and mental health benefits of recreation programming to the community. In keeping some activities running with safety measures in place, we have attempted to balance the needs of the community with the need to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
For more information on the new rules and regulations in Ottawa, visit ottawa.ca.

For more information on City programs and services, visit ottawa.ca or call 3-1-1 (TTY: 613-580-2401). You can also connect with us through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Mayor's Statement: Ontario Implementing Additional Public Health Measures in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region

Today’s decision by the Province is likely one of the most difficult decisions the Premier and his cabinet have ever had to make.
The health and safety of our residents must be the top priority.
Earlier today I spoke with Premier Ford and Minister Philips, who briefed me on the new restrictions as well as supports they’ll be introducing to assist those businesses and employees affected by this decision.
This 28 day temporary closure of certain businesses presents an opportunity for us collectively to realize the seriousness of what is before of us and for all us to reset and refocus our actions towards flattening the curve and eliminating this virus.
This pandemic is the most challenging threat we have witnessed in generations and we must work together to help those directly affected by this horrific pandemic.
Ottawa residents have shown their resiliency throughout this pandemic.
There is no doubt this will have a significant impact on our local economy, particularly for small businesses.
If you have the means, I would urge you to do your essential shopping at small businesses and consider ordering take out or buying a gift certificate from your favourite restaurants.
I encourage all who can, please consider donating to the Ottawa Food Bank this weekend for their Thanksgiving Food Drive.
I will be meeting virtually with our human needs task force and economic working group early next week to discuss next steps.
I will also be working closely with my Council colleagues during the development of our 2021 budget to see what can be done to provide more support to our local businesses struggling through this extended pandemic.
Starting Tuesday, in consultation with Councillor Hubley, OC Transpo will begin issuing tickets for those not following the municipal bylaw on wearing a mask while on OC Transpo property or riding a bus or train.

I cannot stress this enough, please listen to all of the advice and rules implemented by our hardworking and dedicated medical staff and our law enforcement partners.
It has been said over and over again but I cannot stress this enough, we all have a role to play in limiting the spread of this virus.

That means; limiting your close contacts to those in household, if you live on your own, pair up with one or two trusted friends as social supports.
Do your best to limit your trips outside of the home to essential ones.
Download the COVID Alert App.
And most importantly be COVID wise.

We are all in this together and I have no doubt that we can all collectively flatten this curve.

Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving.

 

GOVERNMENT OF ONTARIO ANNOUNCEMENT:

TORONTO — In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Public Health Measures Table, and local medical officers of health and other health experts, the Ontario government is introducing additional targeted public health measures in the Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions. These modified Stage 2 restrictions will be for a minimum of 28 days and reviewed on an ongoing basis.

Details were provided by Premier Doug Ford, Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, Rod Phillips, Minister of Finance, Dr. David Williams, Chief Medical Officer of Health, and Dr. Adalsteinn Brown, Director of the Institute for Health Policy, Management, and Evaluation and the Dalla Lana Chair of Public Health Policy at the University of Toronto.
"The health experts presented the most recent health data which identified some alarming public health trends that require immediate attention and early action to keep people safe," said Premier Ford. "That's why we are making the difficult, but necessary decision to accept the health advice, and impose further restrictions in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region. By taking action ahead of the long weekend, we will help contain the spread in these hotspots, protect the surrounding communities, shield our seniors and most vulnerable, and contain the second wave surge. At the same time, we are providing support to our small businesses in these hotspots."
"We are seeing the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19 rising, hospitalization rates are growing, and community outbreaks are entering our nursing homes and vulnerable congregate settings," said Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health, Dr. David Williams. "We need to act quickly, and we need everyone to follow the public health guidelines if we are going to stop the spread and contain the second wave."
Effective Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., these targeted measures are being implemented in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto as a result of their higher than average rates of transmission. Measures under a modified Stage 2 include:
Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
Closing of:
Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
Indoor cinemas;
Performing arts centres and venues;
Spectator areas in racing venues;
Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.;
Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming);
Reducing the capacity limits for:
Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
Real estate open houses to 10 people indoors, where physical distancing can be maintained.
In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with exemptions for schools, child care centres, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, and
Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).
Schools, child care centres, and places of worship will remain open in these communities and must continue to follow the public health measures in place. Before-school and after-school programs will also be exempt from these new restrictions.
Given the extraordinary costs associated with these functions, wedding receptions scheduled for this weekend may proceed under existing public health rules. Effective Tuesday, October 13, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., updated public health measures will apply to wedding receptions, including new gathering limits of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors at event spaces.
"The rising number of COVID-19 cases and outbreaks with increasing rates of hospitalization and ICU admissions is very concerning and putting our health system capacity at risk," said Minister Elliott. "We need to halt this dangerous trend by tightening public health measures in Ottawa, Peel and Toronto in order to keep our schools open, protect our seniors and our loved ones in long-term care homes, and avoid the need for harsher measures in the future. This was not an easy decision but a necessary one to potentially preventing something much worse."
In addition to the measures being implemented in the Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto public health unit regions, the Chief Medical Officer of Health is also urging all Ontarians to:
Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes only such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity. In addition, travel to other regions in the province, especially from higher transmission to lower transmission areas, should only be for essential purposes;
Practise physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; and
Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and following gathering limits and rules.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation across the province to advise if and when public health measures or restrictions should be adjusted or tightened.
For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.
As these necessary public health measures come at a cost to small businesses, Ontario has planned to and will make $300 million available to assist significantly affected businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.
"Since the outset of the pandemic the government has recognized that the health and safety of the people of Ontario must come first, while supporting workers and business-owners during this unprecedented global pandemic," said Minister Phillips. "Ontario will build on the historic collaboration with the Government of Canada to ensure workers are protected, businesses are supported, and that this support arrives as soon as possible."
This support will be provided by the province and will be made available in any region where these measures are necessary. More details will be released in the coming days.
This funding builds on the actions the government has taken to support small businesses throughout the pandemic, including putting in place a temporary moratorium on commercial evictions, making $60 million available for a $1,000 grant for small businesses to offset the cost of personal protective equipment (PPE), and exploring options to permanently allow restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order.


Lower Limits for Unmonitored and Private Social Gatherings in Ottawa, Peel and Toronto Regions

In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and local municipal leaders, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, setting a new limit reducing the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events in three regions experiencing higher rates of transmission of COVID-19. This includes functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.
"We have been working hand-in-hand with our medical officials and our mayors to try and slow down and limit new cases in the regions with the highest rates of transmission," said Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. "This targeted action is in direct response to the latest data, which tells us that increased cases are the result of private and social gatherings. By limiting the number of people permitted at a social gathering in these regions, we will reduce the spread of COVID-19 and keep people safe."
To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the amended order will set a new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored social gathering or organized public event in three specific regions to:
10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50); or
25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100).
Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. These are not accumulative and gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.
The new limits will only apply to persons within the boundaries of the following public health units:
Ottawa Public Health;
Peel Public Health; and
Toronto Public Health.
This amended order will come into effect on September 18 at 12:01am.
The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres or banquet halls, gyms, and recreational sporting or performing art events. Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures, for these businesses and facilities continue to be in effect.
To support better compliance with public health guidelines, both within these three regions and across Ontario, amendments to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act would, if passed, create:
A new offence regarding hosting or organizing a gathering in residential premises or other prescribed premises that exceeds limits under an order
A minimum fine of $10,000 for organizers of these gatherings
Authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to prescribe additional types of premises for the purpose of the new offence.
Authority for a police officer, special constable or First Nations constable to order the temporary closure of a premise where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any gathering exceeding the number of people allowed is taking place and require individuals to leave the premises.
These new compliance mechanisms are the most stringent in all of Canada.
"We are determined to take decisive action to protect Ontario's recovery and keep people safe across our province. With the recent rise in COVID-19 cases, a continued agile and proactive response to the evolving public health situation is vitally important," said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. "While most Ontarians are following provincial orders and public health guidelines, those caught breaking the rules will now face stiffer penalties. We are taking stronger action by setting a minimum fine of $10,000 for people who organize gatherings in private residences that violate social gathering restrictions and recklessly put others at risk."
With a recent increase in cases of COVID-19, it remains vital for the government to continue to protect vulnerable populations. As well, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government has extended orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) to October 22, 2020. Orders in effect under the ROA will allow the government to maintain the flexibility it needs to address the ongoing and emerging risks as well as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health measures or restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.
It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice. This includes: staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms; practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, or at gatherings; protecting your circle; wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and adhering to gathering limits and rules. For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.