SUDBURY -- The Ontario government is providing $1,050,639 to help the City of Sault Ste. Marie address ongoing COVID-19-related operating costs.

In a news release Thursday, the province said the new financial relief, part of a $500 million fund for all municipalities, will help ensure the delivery of critical services during the pandemic and keep capital projects on track.

“This investment of $1,050,639 in new support is great news for our community,” Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie, said in the release. “This investment shows that our government is committed to supporting our municipalities so they can continue to deliver the crucial municipal services we rely on.”

The $500 million is being prioritized to help municipalities hardest hit by the pandemic and can be used for things like personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and bylaw enforcement.

“Our government continues to adapt and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic as it evolves, and we know our municipal partners are on the front lines of this effort – providing the critical services people depend on every day,” Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, said in the release.

“Our municipalities have been clear that they need ongoing operating funding in 2021, and it is important that we step up and provide that support so our municipal partners can continue to deliver the services Ontarians rely on each and every day.”

This provincial money builds on the $1.39 billion in operating funding that was provided to municipalities through the joint federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement.

The second phase of the Safe Restart Agreement was allocated to all Ontario municipalities in December, to ensure that no community entered 2021 facing an operating deficit from 2020.

“Municipalities are important partners in the fight against COVID-19,” Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, said in the release.

Significant financial challenges

“We know the global pandemic has created significant financial challenges for communities across the province. That’s why we have been there with support from the very beginning. I encourage our federal partners to step forward with additional investments as all three governments work together to protect people’s health and jobs.”

“The additional support from the Government of Ontario represents a valuable resource as we continue to deliver services while prioritizing the health and safety of community members,” said Christian Provenzano, Mayor of Sault Ste. Marie. “Municipal governments provide important services that residents depend on, and I want to recognize the government for its support of our operations.”

The province will provide its next update on Ontario's finances and the government's plan to continue the fight against COVID-19 in the 2021 budget, to be delivered no later than March 31.