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Tory says COVID-19 could cost Toronto upwards of $2.7B in lost revenue

Last Updated Apr 17, 2020 at 8:52 pm EDT

Mayor John Tory says COVID-19 is costing the city $65 million a week in lost revenue and by the time it is over, the losses could top $2.7 billion.

In painting a grim financial picture, the mayor said that under a best case scenario of a three month lockdown and a six month recovery period, the city expects to lose $1.5 billion in 2020.

Under a worst case scenario of a nine month lockdown and a year long recovery period, losses would top $2.7 billion.

One of the biggest losses of revenue to the city is the TTC, which is losing upwards of $20 million a week due to an 85 per cent decline in ridership since April, according to Tory.

Tory called it one of the “greatest financial challenges” the city has ever faced, adding he would be relying on other levels of government to help make up the shortfall.

“Toronto and other cities are on the frontlines of helping combat COVID-19 and they will be on the frontlines of rebuilding and recovering our economy,” said Tory. “I have been very clear with the other governments that this will require assistance from those governments in substantial amounts.”

The mayor pointed out that since municipalities can’t go into debt under provincial laws when it comes to operating expenses, they would need to either cut services or raise taxes to make up for the shortfall. Tory encouraged everyone who is able to pay their monthly property taxes to do so to help mitigate some of the losses.

However, Tory also stressed that they will be relying on both the provincial and federal governments to assist Toronto, noting they have more revenue tools available to them to raise needed capital than the city does.

In a bit of good news, Tory said talks would be held this weekend about when to safely re-start the city but he cautioned that would only happen if everyone continued to adhere to medical guidelines of social and physical distancing.

On Friday, the total number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the city surpassed 3,000. Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, Dr. Eileen de Villa, said there were 2,818 confirmed cases and another 327 probable cases in the city. In addition, seven more deaths were recorded bringing the total up to 154.

Dr. de Villa also cautioned that while the province’s plan to increase and expand testing for the coronavirus is good news, she expects the number of confirmed cases will continue to increase.

“While this may be jarring, or disheartening, please remember that the more information we have about COVID-19 in our city and in vulnerable settings like long-term care homes and shelters, the better we are equipped to respond,” she said.