COVID-19 Update April 2020

I hope each and every one of you is doing well amid this uncertain and trying time. As we all strive to do our part in slowing the spread of COVID-19 I wanted to provide some resources that may help you and your communities during this time.

Firstly, I want to share this document created by our City COVID-19 Task Team with all the federal and provincial government stimulus and support measures, both for individuals and businesses. A summary of this information and other pertinent COVID-19 updates can be found here, at this regularly updated link.

Monday, March 30th was a significant day for City Council with rigorous discussion on the financial implications of COVID-19. The estimated loss of revenue the City is facing has been calculated for three distinct scenarios based on when operations may return to normal. By the end of April the revenue shortfall is estimated to be $30.9 million, by mid-June it’s calculated to be $67.9 million, and by mid-September the revenue shortfall is pegged at $125.9 million. The reduction in overall expenses is estimated to be about 10 percent of those figures for each time period. Due to this expected shortfall, significant action is required to make sure that the City and Edmontonians maintain their fiscal health.

Working with our union partners, the City has temporarily laid off 1,600 Community and Recreation Facilities workers and the Library has temporarily laid off 489, almost all of whom will be covered by employment insurance, including a top-up payment to 75 percent of their wage for 16 weeks for full-time workers and 8 weeks for part-time employees. Additionally, tax penalties will be deferred this year and utility payments will be delayed to help Edmontonians struggling to make ends meet. Here is a link to the entire agenda with all of its attachments.

On Monday, City Council met to discuss the ongoing efforts to reduce the negative impacts of the COVID-19 outbreak. Council passed a motion to remove penalties for outstanding business improvement area taxes until August, and allow taxpayers on monthly payment plans to request a delay between April and August. Additionally Council gave Administration the ability to determine a later date past August 31st on property tax penalty deferrals, if deemed necessary.

Council also laid out the principles and strategies to guide Administration in shaping the major budget adjustments coming on April 15:

  • Safety – The public’s safety is a top priority
  • Combination of Tools – Revenue reductions will be addressed with a combination one-time funding as well as and strategic decisions on  spending/service reductions
  • Long Range Focus – Address the short term issues but be mindful of the impact on the municipal corporation’s long-term financial sustainability
  • Local Economy – Continue to support stabilization of the local economy
  • Honour Relationships – Workforce strategies will be fair and respectful
  • City Building  – Evaluate for 2020 and beyond to determine what advances
  • Demonstrate Empathy  – Limit tax increases for Edmontonians

Finally, I want to highlight some key non-profits that are operating right now and could use your help. These organizations always serve a critical role in our city, and that has never been more apparent than during this time. For each of these organizations, you can click on their name for a link to their website and more information on how to help. Meals on Wheels, which delivers meals and other food services to people’s homes, is asking for financial support, non-perishable food, volunteer help, and toilet paper. United Way is running a variety of programs, including a COVID-19 response fund, and is asking for financial support during this time.

The Edmonton Food Bank needs support now more than ever in the form of non-perishable food items and financial donations. Kids Help Phone, a national organization dedicated to helping children in need of support and crisis management, is calling for volunteers during this time of heightened difficulty. Lastly, while the Italian Centre cannot fulfill its typical role as a gathering space for people of all kinds, it is offering curbside delivery and pick-up of groceries during this time to anyone who needs it.

Please feel free to reach out if you need anything else, my office and I are always happy to help.

Take good care,
Michael Walters
Councillor, Ward 10

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