The provincial budget appears to be offering Ottawa “a good start” at covering the city’s projected $153-million deficit this year, says Mayor Jim Watson.
The 2021 budget tabled Wednesday at Queen’s Park provides $905 million for municipalities and their services: $500 million to shore up operational costs; another $150 million for revenue-ravaged transit systems; and $255 million for social services.
All this spending was pre-announced by the government earlier this month, but is welcomed nonetheless by the city, which is currently forecasting a $153-million deficit if the pandemic continues through to the end of the year.
Ottawa’s share of the new provincial funds comes to about $70 million, but the federal government is expected to match that amount in its own budget next month.
“A good portion of it actually is for costs that we’ve incurred for everything from PPE to paramedic overtime costs to running the vaccination centres at city facilities,” the mayor told CBC Ottawa’s All In a Day host Alan Neal on Wednesday. “It’s not going to go to new programs. It’s going to basically cover the costs that we’ve incurred as a direct result of COVID-19.”
City ended with surplus last year
In fact, COVID-19 had a net impact of $238.5 million on the city last year, according to a staff report that was made public Wednesday evening.
The hardest hit department was transit by a wide margin. OC Transpo, which saw its ridership plummet as workplaces and schools closed, lost $108 million of revenue in 2020.
But the city’s shortfall was more-than-covered by federal and provincial funding, and Ottawa actually ended the year with a surplus of almost $22 million, says the report that is going council’s finance and economic development committee next month.
Even better, it appears that the city carried over $103 million of unused provincial and federal funding from last year into 2021, although $79.4 million has to be used by March 31, 2021. And unspent money will have to be sent back.
‘Very optimistic’ on public health
Like Watson, Ottawa Board of Health Chair Keith Egli wants to hear about the budget details before breathing a sigh of relief — but so far, so good, he said.
“We’re very optimistic,” Egli told CBC. “We made it very clear to the province that there were going to be unforeseen expenses related to the vaccine rollout. They’ve indicated go ahead — get as many people vaccinated as quickly as you can.”
Ottawa Public Health (OPH) saw its costs increase by $19 million last year — a figure that will likely soar in 2021 as staff roll out the massive vaccination plan. The province put aside $1 billion in its 2021 budget for the vaccine program, and another $2.3 billion to pay for COVID-19 testing and contact tracing in 2021 and 2022, an indication that the government doesn’t think we’ll be quite done with coronavirus this year.
It’s too early to say whether those funds will be enough, said Egli. Circumstances change rapidly, including this week when the province’s online appointment system double-booked residents for shots. The city had to pivot, finding shuttles to take those who were overbooked to a different vaccination centre.
“Nobody really knows what’s going to cost at the end of the day,” he said.” There’s a certain level of working on faith here.”
Egli said OPH needs “to forge ahead and do the work and and sort it out when the dust clears,” adding that the province has given “every indication that they’re going to be there for us and make us whole.”
Money for hospitality, not for housing
Watson said he was relieved to see help for small businesses extended, and a new $100-million program for hard-hit tourism and hospitality businesses, which will be eligible for one-time payments between $10,000 and $20,000.
Tourism is Ottawa’s third-largest industry and the mayor hopes that the province will spend some of its economic recovery money on marketing. He expects “a much more focused campaign on domestic tourism,” targeting Toronto, Kingston, Montreal when it’s appropriate to travel.
Watson was disappointed, however, to see little new money for affordable housing. Ottawa’s city council declared a housing emergency in Ottawa last year, and earlier this month approved its first-ever long-term financial plan to deal with housing and homelessness. That plan calls for the provincial and federal governments to equally split a $585-million price tag for new housing over the next decade.
Ontario’s 2021 budget didn’t address the housing issue in any significant way.
Internet for smaller municipalities
The budget contained a few shout-outs for smaller municipalities, too. In particular, the government pledged to spend $2.8 billion to bring broadband to more people over the next four years.
And the province will temporarily increase the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit for businesses outside large centres like Toronto and Ottawa, a move that will cost the government $61 million.
As well, the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund — which helps smaller centres with their operating costs — remains stable at about $500 million.
B.C. reports 342 new COVID cases, half of which are in Interior Health – Vernon Morning Star
The province is reporting 342 new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday (Aug. 4), a number not seen since May.
Of the new cases, 66 are in Fraser Health, 57 are in Vancouver Coastal Health, 171 are in Interior Health, 13 are in Northern Health, 32 are in Island Health and three new cases are in people who typically reside outside of Canada.
There are 1,764 active cases, of which 945 are in Interior Health. There are 55 people in hospital, 23 of whom are in intensive care or ICU.
Vaccination rates for people ages 12 and older have reached 81.5 per cent for first doses and 67.9 for second doses. There have been 6,931,815 doses of COVID vaccines administered so far.
There are five long-term care facilities currently experiencing COVID outbreaks: Holyrood Manor (Fraser Health), Nelson Jubilee Manor, Kootenay Street Village, Cottonwoods Care Centre and Brookhaven Care Centre (Interior Health).
According to the province, 78 per cent of cases are in people who are unvaccinated, while 18 per cent are in people who have had just one dose.
B.C. reports 342 new cases of COVID-19 over past 24 hours, with half in Interior Health – Kamloops This Week
After days of reporting elevated case counts near 200 new per day, B.C. reported 342 new cases over the past 24 hours on Wednesday.
After a dramatic decline in cases from April to July, which the provincial government attributed to vaccinations taking hold in the province, cases have once again started spiking upwards, and the Interior Health region is leading the way.
On Wednesday, Interior Health accounted for 171 of the 342 new cases, continuing the trend of making up approximately half of all new cases in the province.
But daily case data from the BC Centre for Disease Control also shows other regions beginning to increase, including Vancouver Coastal Health and Fraser Health.
Interior Health now has nearly 1,000 active cases.
By the numbers, Fraser Health has 388 active cases, Vancouver Coastal Health has 258, Northern Health has 52, Island Health has 109, 12 are non-residents of Canada and Interior Health has 945.
As to where cases are emerging in Interior Health, weekly case data won’t be released until later on Wednesday. Previous weeks showed cases emerging in the Central Okanagan, where an outbreak was declared by Interior Health on July 28. That outbreak only affected the Central Okanagan local health area, but other local health areas also saw modest increases in cases.
Hospitalizations and deaths, however, remain low. No deaths were reported on Wednesday and only about a dozen deaths have been reported since the beginning of July.
As of Wednesday, B.C. had 55 people in hospital and 23 of those patients in ICUs.
With vaccinations continuing, B.C. has now put two doses in 67.9 per cent of everyone eligible to receive the vaccine in this province.
The province’s one-dose rate as of Wednesday is 81.5 per cent for everyone age 12 and older.
COVID-19 outbreaks in two Kelowna area care homes announced as case numbers rise | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source – iNFOnews
New case numbers of COVID-19 continue to rise across B.C., with Interior Health yet again showing the most growth.
It seems that the disease may have spread beyond the 20 to 40 age group, as well, with two new outbreaks in area care homes being reported.
Cottonwoods Care Centre in Kelowna and Brookhaven Care Centre in West Kelowna are listed among the province’s long-term care facilities where there’s an outbreak. Brookhaven has eight cases: four residents and four staff. Cottonwoods Care Centre long-term care has three resident cases.
In the last 24 hours there have been 342 new cases of COVID-19 diagnosed, for a total of 150,973 cases in the province since the start of the pandemic. Of these new cases, 171 were in Interior Health.
It now has 945 of the 1,764 active cases of COVID-19 in the province. Of the active cases, 55 people are in hospital and 23 are in intensive care.
Fraser Health is reporting 66 new cases, for a total active caseload of 388, Vancouver Coastal Health is reporting 57 new cases for a total of 258 active cases, Northern Health had 13 new cases raising the active cases to 52 and Island Health had 32 new cases raising its active caseload to 109.
In the past 24 hours, no new deaths have been reported, for an overall total of 1,772.
Since December 2020, the Province has administered 6,931,815 doses of Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccines.
As of Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021, 81.5% (3,777,588) of eligible people 12 and older in B.C. have received their first dose of COVID-19 vaccine and 67.9% (3,146,669) have received their second dose.
In addition, 82.4% (3,564,533) of all eligible adults in B.C. have received their first dose and 70.1% (3,033,200) have received their second dose.
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