Good morning everyone. Bonjour tout le monde.

I wish to acknowledge that Ottawa is located on un-ceded territory of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation.

We honour the land and the peoples of the Algonquin Anishinabe Nation, whose ancestors have lived on this territory for millennia.

 Leur culture et leur présence ont enrichi – et continue d’enrichir – ces terres.  

Today is an important milestone for our City and our residents as we introduce the 2022 Budget.

Our City and our country have been through a lot over the course of the last year.

The municipal budget is the main tool that we have to show that we care and that we are being responsive to what is happening around us.

And that we are managing the dollars entrusted to us by the residents of Ottawa in a prudent way, while trying to respond to a very broad range of competing needs.

As members of Council know, we receive both formal and informal feedback from tens of thousands of residents every year -and that feedback is as diverse as the needs of our continuously changing urban, suburban and rural communities.

Today, I will be focusing on how the world is changing around us and highlight how the City’s budget attempts to address these changes.

I will also share highlights of how Budget 2022 tries to be responsive to these trends and City-wide needs.

The most obvious issue is how our City is emerging from the devastating Covid-19 pandemic as the fragile economic recovery starts to take hold.

Our City is now re-organizing to try to get back to some semblance of “business as usual.”

C’est ce que les résidents font à travers notre ville, dans les entreprises, les écoles, les lieux de travail et les maisons.

Ottawa Public Health, and many city departments, had to reorganize to respond to new needs during the pandemic.

As a result of the ongoing fight against Covid-19, Ottawa Public Health anticipates significant and ongoing budget pressures in 2022.

One of their top priorities is continuing to counter COVID-19 transmission by increasing the vaccination coverage in all eligible populations to over 90%.

While the people of Ottawa have on average achieved the 90% coverage rate milestone, there are some neighborhoods where people face greater barriers due to socioeconomic issues and misinformation or poor experiences with the healthcare system previously.

OPH has worked closely with these groups and we are seeing the results, with hundreds of residents coming to community hub and pop-up clinics daily for their first shots.

The inequity in coverage rates between neighborhoods is dropping.

OPH anticipates that the population eligible for COVID-19 vaccination will grow, and OPH – in partnership with the City – will be ready to get our youngest residents vaccinated.

On Monday, you heard at the OPH board meeting about their plans to vaccinate youth aged 5 to 11.

This could be one of the final pieces of the puzzle in putting an end to COVID-19 in Ottawa.

This step will not be easy – nothing in this pandemic has been easy.

It is incumbent upon all of us as leaders in our community to do what we can to ensure that some of our most vulnerable residents are finally protected.

This ongoing battle against COVID-19 must be fought while OPH is striving to maintain its core public services and programs.

And slowly reinstating additional services as staffing and resources allow.

As a result of the ongoing battle against COVID-19, OPH is projecting a $48 million budget shortfall in 2022.

Let’s remember that over 600 Ottawa residents have lost their lives since the pandemic began.

We cannot accept seeing more people lose their lives to COVID-19 in our City…

And so it is our duty to continue investing – to prevent – every – single – preventable death.

C’est ainsi notre devoir, en tant que Ville, de continuer à soutenir le travail de pionnier de Santé Publique jusqu’en 2022.

Governments at all levels worked very closely over the last year and over the course of the pandemic to support individuals, businesses, communities and municipalities.

The Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario responded in a very robust way to our municipal funding pressures in 2021, through the Safe Restart funding.

That included very strong funding support for OPH’s one-time pandemic response costs and our other one-time Covid costs.

As a City, we are grateful for this funding, without which our resources would have been stretched to the point of breaking during the pandemic.

The city’s pathway to recovery requires continued close partnership of all three levels of government into 2022.

I look forward to working closely with Big City Mayors and our partners in the Federal and Provincial government as we make our case to sustain safe restart funding into 2022, and to ensure their promise of keeping public health whole is honored into 2022.

Residents are also struggling with recent changes in our economy that are hitting their wallets over the course of the last few months:

Inflation is back, with a vengeance.

Costs are increasing for families and residents at a pace not seen since the late 1980s.

There are many media reports and anecdotal feedback from residents who know that the cost of just about everything is rising more rapidly than in the last 20 years or so.

The Ottawa Citizen reported on October 19th that “economists expect the yearly rate of inflation will hit 4.3 percent, the highest level in nearly two decades”.

Statistics Canada reported in October, 2021 the following year-over-year increases in the Ontario consumer price index:

  • Food  – up 3.7%
  • Meat – up 8.2%
  • Natural gas – up 14.8%
  • Fuel oil and other fuels – up 31.1%
  • Gasoline – up 34.5%

And recently the Bank of Canada signaled that it was planning to start raising interest rates, which will increase mortgage payments for anyone with a variable mortgage rate and for individuals and families planning to buy a house.

And although we have little control over inflation, we do have 100% control over the level of municipal taxation.

There is actually something quite practical that the City can do to help – honour our commitment to the 3% tax cap.

When a strong majority of members of Council voted to ask staff to deliver a municipal budget based on a 3% tax cap, they could not anticipate this bout of high inflation.

The last thing we need to do today is to make housing even more out-of-reach for the residents of Ottawa.

We need to make it easier – not harder – for people on fixed incomes, seniors on pensions, young families purchasing their first home or struggling to keep their current home…

The fact that almost every other household expenditure is increasing for Ottawa residents provides an even more compelling reason for us to hold the line on property tax increases.

That is why Budget 2022 focuses on affordability for residents and businesses by holding the line on property taxes at three-per-cent.

This amounts to an extra $119 for the average urban homeowner and $91 for the average rural homeowner.

There is a great amount of research on how high inflation hurts low income populations most, as they tend to spend more of their income on the necessities of life.

Last fall, the Conference Board of Canada reported that – and I quote:

“Today’s inflation means that low-income Canadians may have more difficulty maintaining their existing quality of life than high-income households. This can force low-income families, many of whom live paycheque to paycheque, to cut back on essentials like healthy food.”

Cette nouvelle réalité économique mettra encore plus de pression sur nos services sociaux en 2022.

The social services and programs that make up our social safety net become even more important during this time.

As incomes started to plummet and job losses mounted early in the pandemic, the Government of Canada moved to provide income support to Canadians at a level not seen since the Great Depression.

These programs are now being pared back as the economy continues to rebound, but social needs remain.

Our most vulnerable residents are unlikely to take part in our City’s economic rebound – but their needs have not diminished.

The pandemic showed how vital community and social services are to the most vulnerable members of our community.

Front-line workers in community and municipal social services worked tirelessly to ensure that the needs of our most vulnerable neighbours were looked after.

This includes community health and resource centres, food banks, shelters for women fleeing violence – and much more.

Budget 2022 proposes a $1.6 million base budget increase over two years for the Community Funding Framework.

  • plus an inflationary increase of $495K
  • bringing the total program envelope above $27 million
  • And making this the largest funding increase to this program since 2006.

A total of 95 agencies are recommended to receive funding, including 22 new agencies focused on equity and inclusion.

Agencies such as The Ottawa Black Mental Health Coalition, the Ottawa Aboriginal Coalition, Westboro Beach Community Kitchen and The Osgoode Youth Association will be added to the Sustainability Fund envelope.

The Province of Ontario has played a key role in supporting local community based social service agencies during the pandemic through the Social Services Relief Fund.

The fight against homelessness was challenging before, COVID made it even tougher.

Le Conseil municipal prend des mesures sur plusieurs fronts pour lutter contre la crise du logement.

In March of 2021, Council approved the City’s first long range financial plan for Housing at the City.

Budget 2022 delivers on the commitment to add $1 million in base funding to the capital budget for affordable housing capital for a total budget commitment of $15 million.

Staff estimates that $2 million in development charge exemptions will bolster this program in 2022 – reducing the cost of adding new affordable units for our non-profit housing partners.

Of the 1,730 affordable housing units that are in various stages of development across the City, a total of 232 supportive housing units and 229 affordable housing units will be completed by the end of 2022.

Members of Council will recall that this forms part of Council’s commitment to invest $200 million over 10 years under the new Long Range Financial Plan for Housing.

Of any level of government, the City of Ottawa is the single largest permanent funder of affordable housing and homelessness programs and supports in our city – a commitment of $119 million for 2022.

An increase of 6.25% over 2021.

This includes funding for rent supplements, support for housing and homelessness agencies, and funding for supportive housing operations.

Budget 2022 demonstrates to our funding partners that we are ready to leverage much needed funding from other levels of government.

Now that we have a tangible plan for what is needed locally, I am confident we can – working closely with other Big City Mayors – make the case to upper levels of government to increase funding support for housing.

As affordable transportation is critical for low-income residents, the cost of the EquiPass and the Community Pass for Ontario Disability Support Program recipients will remain frozen at 2018 rates for another year.

Later today, Transit Commission will bring forward a plan to provide up to 2,000 no charge passes for shelter residents, our most vulnerable residents. I thank members of the Transit Commission for their leadership.

Residents of Long-Term Care homes have also been disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

The provincial government has committed to increasing funding for long-term care home operators, with a goal to provide an average of four hours of direct care per resident, per day.

The provincial funding increase will take place gradually with initial funding flowing to operators in 2021-2022 and full funding anticipated by 2025.

These changes result in an additional $6.2 million dollars flowing to the City’s long-term care facilities in 2022 to support enhanced resident care.

Budget 2022 also includes $2.1 million in capital funding for air conditioning units in our long-term care homes to enhance the quality of life of residents.

I can’t imagine how unbearable the last heat wave must have been for vulnerable seniors in our long-term care facilities – and I’m incredibly grateful for all those who cared for and vaccinated our residents over the last 20 months.

This includes our city’s paramedics who are some of the unsung heroes in our fight against COVID-19.

It is unlikely that we can find a time in our City’s history when we needed our paramedics, health care and other front line workers more than during the pandemic.

They helped contain outbreaks in long-term care facilities and supported COVID-19 testing centres and vaccination clinics, as our community was immunized against COVID-19.

Budget 2022 includes 14 new paramedics and 12 new ambulances to address city-wide growth in call volumes, bringing the total hiring in this term of Council to 56 net new paramedics.

Council also recently approved the Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.

This will give our city a framework for how to manage local risks to safety and well-being at the community level.

A total of $34 million in existing budgets and resources is already allocated by the City in support of the Plan.

Budget 2022 includes a new funding request of $760,000 for four FTEs with an administrative budget of $250,000.

This is a crucial first step – as this funding supports the creation of an office responsible for the successful development and implementation of the Plan.

Over the course of the last year, we have received feedback about the future level of funding required by the Ottawa Police Service.

Today, the Ottawa Police Service tabled its tax increase at 2.86 per cent, rather than 3 per cent.

This frees up $435,000 in available funding to support the development of an innovative pilot program,

  • Led by Inner City Health and supported by many partners including the Canadian Mental Health Association;
  • The pilot program will address growing mental health needs in the Byward Market area, issues that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

This funding will be allocated to the mental health pillar of the City’s Community and Safety Well-being plan.

Following recent discussions with Chief Sloly, I was pleased to hear that he has decided to reinstate two teams of foot patrol officers in the Market.

These officers will be covering the neighbourhood between 8 am and 8 pm, through a redeployment of resources.

I know this OPS presence will be a relief to the BIA members and the Ottawa Markets team, which have been advocating for this model for a number of months.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind Members of Council and the public that a municipal council has limited authority over the size and mandate of police services in the municipality.

As you may be aware, salaries make up over 82% of the budget of the Ottawa Police Service.

Un débat important a eu lieu au cours de la dernière année au sujet du budget des services de police.

And although these discussions have not led to a consensus around the table or in the community, I believe that a strong majority of members of Council do not want to see a reduced police presence in our neighborhoods and on our streets.

The collaboration I just outlined between OPS and the City to support small businesses and residents in the Byward Market is a shining example of what we need more of in our City.

A focus on action over words.

Hundreds of small businesses in the Market and across the City are still hanging on by their finger nails.

They are the backbone of our local economy, creating employment and contributing to neighbourhood vibrancy and quality of life in every part of Ottawa.

Through the Mayor’s Economic Partners Task Force and the Economic Rebound Roundtable, we have delivered several initiatives to support economic recovery in many sectors – and we will continue to do so.

Throughout the pandemic, we have offered a high level of support to our restaurants, who have all suffered during many lockdowns, as our province faced spikes in COVID-19.

Over the last two summers, we waived patio fees and expanded the patio program – which led to roughly 250 new patios and seven street closures that generated 500 paying seats for those restaurants.

I’m very pleased to say that patio fees will be waived once again in 2022 – a $270,000 investment in our restaurant and hospitality sector.

I’m also very proud of the new Small Business Tax Subclass that Council approved just last month.

Starting next year, 10,000 small businesses across the city will benefit from a permanent tax reduction of 15% – with the first reduction of 7.5% coming in 2022.

As you know, this is coming at no cost to residential taxpayers, as the larger commercial and industrial class with absorb the tax shift.

This is showing our small businesses that the City is here to give them a helping hand – and here are a few examples:

  • a food store in Manotick will see a reduction of $265 in municipal taxes over 2 years;
  • a restaurant on Richmond Road will see a decrease of $3,300;
  • a small bicycle shop on St. Joseph Boulevard in Orléans will see a reduction of $1,620 in municipal taxes; and
  • a small automotive trailer shop on Stittsville Main Street will see a decrease of $3,500 in municipal taxes over 2 years.

The total benefit of this shift for small businesses is about $9.9 million in 2022.

C’est ce genre d’aide pratique qui permettra à nos petites entreprises de franchir la ligne d’arrivée alors que nous continuons à faire face à cette pandémie.

And other City partners have been playing a key role on this front as well.

During the pandemic, Invest Ottawa pivoted its operations and helped 1,589 small businesses develop their on-line presence and sales capacity through the Digital Main Street Program.

They have also supported another 250 businesses through their regular entrepreneurship and mentorship programs.

With their sustained investments in our city’s young innovators and entrepreneurs, Invest Ottawa continues to support the next generation of tech entrepreneurs in our city.

To counter the uneven and prolonged pace of recovery in the hardest hit sectors – especially tourism, the City is working with Ottawa Tourism and partners from the cultural sector on a strategy to leverage our cultural assets and experiences in order to position 2022 as the Year of Cultural Tourism in the nation’s capital.

Attracting visitors to Ottawa is critical to our local economy, which has experienced $2.8 billion dollars in lost visitor spending since the start of the pandemic.

Let’s remember that tourism and hospitality is the third most important sector in our city, supporting over 40,000 jobs.

Returning to robust economic activity across all sectors of the local economy will also require talent and a skilled workforce.

Building on Invest Ottawa’s Talent Program – and in consultation with our postsecondary institutions and private sector employers, the City is facilitating discussions to develop strategies to better align skills training, co-op placements and the recruitment process for our hardest hit sectors.

As a first step, the City has committed to and is working with Ottawa’s postsecondary institutions to increase its hiring of co-op students to at least 70 in 2022 and to surpass 100 co-op placements by 2024.

The economic rebound of our festival and special-event sector is another key priority for the City of Ottawa.

Throughout August and September, we invested $20,000 and worked with the Ottawa Music Industry Coalition to offer a series of musical performances in BIAs across the city.

This program not only supported local musicians; it also reintroduced residents to the live music performances they had so missed since the beginning of the pandemic.

To help support the music sector as it recovers from the devasting impacts of the pandemic, the City has developed a rental relief program that will deliver affordable access to the City’s showcase facilities.

In order to support artists and not-for-profit cultural organizations, a 50% reduction in rental rates is now available to eligible clients for City facilities like Aberdeen Pavilion, the Horticulture Building, Shenkman Arts Centre and Meridian Theatres at Centrepointe.

This support measure will be in place until the end of 2022 and is reflected in the draft budget.

Il existe plusieurs signes de reprise dans notre ville, notamment dans l’industrie de la construction et des métiers en plein essor.

Throughout the pandemic, our Planning and Building Code Services teams have never stopped delivering to ensure that we can maintain the growth of our city.

By the end of Q2 2021, almost 5,800 building permits had been issued by the City – up 40% over the same period last year.

The team just issued building permit # 10,000 on October 15 – two months before that same permit number was issued last year – and most years we don’t even get to 10,000.

Although certain sectors are thriving and our city has the lowest unemployment rate of any large city in Canada, many residents have lost their job, while others have resorted to precarious employment between lockdowns.

So we can’t let up on our efforts to support small businesses and bring back all the jobs that were lost during the pandemic.

And through these challenging economic times, residents expect us to maintain a strong focus on the core municipal infrastructure they rely on to get to work, to get around their neighborhoods and to enjoy our public and community spaces.

In 2022, we maintain our 1% commitment to closing the infrastructure funding gap.

The City will be increasing its spending this year on Capital, which includes roads, bridges, culverts, parks and rec facilities, and other municipal infrastructure – from $781 million in 2021 to $989 million in 2022 – a whopping increase of $209 million dollars.

That is 26% more spending on core infrastructure than the City spent last year, and it is being funded from 3 main sources: property taxes, rate and development charges.

I want to thank Council for its steadfast commitment to the infrastructure renewal priority.

Because if we don’t set and stick to our priorities, then we’re operating without a plan.

To deliver on this priority, Budget 2022 invests in a large number of road projects across the City including:

  • Greenfield Avenue, Main Street and Hawthorne Road rebuild;
  • Robert Grant Avenue extension;
  • Mitch Owens Road resurfacing;
  • Torwood Drive resurfacing;
  • Greenbank Road preliminary design;
  • Jeanne D’Arc Boulevard resurfacing; and
  • Bank Street widening;

… To name just a few.

Residents spoke, and members of Council listened and agreed that we had to make a long-term commitment to infrastructure renewal.

That is why the City’s spending on roads renewal will increase from $74.2M in 2021 to $133.3M in 2022.  This includes $76M for road resurfacing compared to $36.9M last year.

The growth funded road investment increases from $56M in 2021 to $69.9M in 2022.

Total spending on roads is set to increase from $130.2M in 2021 to $203.2M in 2022 – an increase of 56%.

Because the geographic reality of our City hasn’t changed.

We still need to maintain and repair a very extensive network of roads, pedestrian and cycling pathways and sidewalks – to get residents from one end of the City to the other, and to facilitate mobility within and between neighborhoods.

We clear and maintain 2,400 kilometres of sidewalks – the equivalent of walking from City Hall to Tampa Bay, Florida.

And the City clears more than 50 kilometres of winter-maintained cycling lanes.

And we need to continue investing in our sidewalks and multi-use pathways in all our communities, which contribute to reduced GHG emissions through a favourable modal split.

That is why Budget 2022 includes $11.5 million for sidewalks and pathways; an additional $2.9 million for pedestrian facilities, $8.7 million for cycling facilities; $1.2 million for Active Transportation Missing Links; and, $2.2 million for Major Active Transportation Structures.

The City’s spending on Active transportation increases to $26.7 million in 2022 from $21.3 million in 2021, a 25 % increase.

Our spending on cycling facilities and pathways is set to increase from $13.1 million to $14.1 million.”

It may not be sexy, but for tens of thousands of residents, including our seniors and residents with physical mobility issues, a well maintained sidewalk can be a huge quality of life improvement.

Ça peut faire la différence entre pouvoir marcher jusqu’à la maison d’un voisin ou un dépanneur.

It’s also a tool for fighting isolation – from seniors to adults who live alone to moms pushing a stroller. It’s also a low-cost fitness option for all of our residents.

Ward councillors are keenly aware of the traffic issues in their wards.

Budget 2022 maintains the $50,000 fund for each ward for local traffic calming spending, and an additional $446,000 for the highly popular Safer Roads Ottawa program.

And $530,000 for new PXOs to enhance safety along the right-of-way.

Between now and the end of 2022, we will see 15 new speed cameras installed in school zones.

Budget 2022 also includes $7.2 million accelerating the  implementation of the Strategic Road Safety Action Plan.

Total road safety investment in 2022 increases to $44.3M, from $37.1M in 2021.

The long-term health of our community is also challenged by the ongoing impacts of climate change.

Council has taken a number of bold steps to create a path to a more sustainable environment.

Throughout the pandemic, Ottawa residents relied on our public greenspaces more than ever before.

That is why Budget 2022 will invest $6 million in community assets to renew parks across the city.

Budget 2022 also includes funding of $1.6M with a goal to plant 125,000 trees across Ottawa.

Protecting our waterways and greenspace and building resiliency to changes in Ottawa’s climate are significant priorities for Council.

That is why Budget 2022 invests $1 million in the Ottawa River Action Plan and Wet Weather Infrastructure Master Plan.

The City’s Climate Change Master Plan sets targets to reduce community GHG emissions by 100% by 2050 and corporate emissions by 100% by 2040.

To help reach that goal, the Budget includes $55 million for 74 buses.

The City is partnering with the Canada Infrastructure Bank and Infrastructure Canada to replace 74 – 40 foot diesel buses with 74 zero emission electric buses.

Once these buses are on the road, GHG emissions will be reduced by 7000 tonnes annually.

The business case for this purchase and financing arrangement will be brought to Council for approval in the first or second quarter of 2022.

Budget 2022 will fund an EA Study for the VIA Rail – Trainyards Multi-Use Pathway, in Alta Vista.

This will be a key asset to increase connectivity between the Tremblay Station of LRT and the new commercial and residential developments at Trainyards.

In the East end, the City will invest to design the future multi-use pedestrian facility at the Trim LRT Station – providing a much needed connection from the transit station to Petrie Island, La Cité collégiale’s Eastern campus and the residential and future developments north of the 174.

Located in Orleans ward, it will benefit the numerous visitors to the popular Petrie Island regional facility.

These investments will contribute to the future of sustainable transportation in our city, enhancing the ability of Ottawa residents to engage in active transportation while reducing our reliance on cars and safeguarding the environment.

Budget 2022 includes $1M to support the transition to a greener municipal fleet and an additional $3 million for the Energy Management Investment Strategy for a total investment of $11 million over the term of Council.

$800,000 in additional funding from the Hydro Ottawa dividend surplus was approved by Council last week to support Energy Evolution priority projects in 2022.

This includes initiatives like our LED replacement partnership with Ottawa Hydro – which conserves both energy and money.

Last year approximately 2,600 street lights were converted to LED saving approximately $257,000 annually. 2,400 streetlights will be converted to LEDs in 2022.

Whenever possible, it will be used to leverage federal and provincial funds – for greater impact.

And despite our strong disappointment in RTG and Alstom’s performance to date, the continued demand from residents to extend LRT city-wide remains.

The City will spend $963 million of previously approved budget authority on the Stage 2 build of our Light Rail System.

This investment, combined with the Confederation Line investment, is the single largest contribution to GHG reduction in the City’s history.

The Stage 2 Project is estimated to annually reduce GHG emissions by over 110,000 tonnes by 2048.

I am proud of Council’s commitment to building our City’s environmental resiliency.

Ottawa is well positioned to leverage partnerships with other levels of government towards these important goals for future generations living in our city.

Over the course of the coming days and weeks, each Committee and Board will be debating and reviewing its budget.

I want to thank all members of Council who provided their input on the Draft budget to the City Manager and myself.

I also want to thank all Committee chairs, Deputy Mayors, and committee members for the hard work ahead.

This is an important time for all members of Council and the public to share their views on the spending priorities outlined in the 2022 Budget.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Steve Kanellakos, our City Manager, and Wendy Stephanson, our Chief Financial Officer, for their hard work on the 2022 Draft Budget.

Thank you also to all our General Managers for their work on the Draft Budget.

I also want to acknowledge and thank the hundreds of employees who have worked on our financial roadmap for 2022.

I look forward to following the healthy debate over the course of the coming weeks.

I believe that our professional staff has worked very diligently to ensure that Council’s broad policy orientations and directions are reflected in the Draft Budget.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s a very delicate balancing act.

Il existe des centaines et des centaines de propositions concurrentes sur la façon de dépenser les revenus limités que nous fournisse les résidents d’Ottawa.

We have a diverse city, which leads invariably to a great diversity of needs and opinions about how to spend these dollars.

Budget 2022 provides a strong pathway to recovery.

It maintains Council’s key commitments to supporting our most vulnerable neighbours;

It positions our City to continue and win the fight against Covid-19;

It continues to invest in our roads, sidewalks and multi-use pathways;

It strives to help small businesses bounce back from the pandemic;

And it endeavours to make our City more sustainable for future generations.

Lastly, it honours Council’s pledge to keep our City affordable as a new round of inflation threatens the purchasing power of all residents, and is likely to hurt vulnerable residents more severely.

The budget that is being tabled today was developed with careful financial stewardship as we emerge from a global pandemic.

I believe this budget strikes the right balance between two competing needs:

It maintains the essential City services that residents depend on, and it invests for the future in a prudent manner that gives us the flexibility to change course and alter our response to the pandemic as developments unfold.