Coronavirus: Toronto city councillor calls for postponement of commercial property taxes

Coronavirus: Toronto city councillor calls for postponement of commercial property taxes

A Toronto city councillor is calling for commercial property taxes, water and waste collection bills to be postponed for businesses in the city amid the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Coun. Brad Bradford, who represents Beaches-East York, called on Mayor John Tory to support the measures in a letter sent on Saturday.

“In the days and weeks since the COVID-19 (outbreak) began affecting daily life in Toronto, I have been hearing from business owners who are under serious pressure as a result of the outbreak,” Bradford said.

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“On behalf of my community, I am urging you to place the City’s full support behind the businesses through the difficult weeks and months ahead.”

In addition to recommending that commercial property taxes, water bills and waste collection bills be deferred, Bradford called for the use of capital reserves to provide “emergency relief” for businesses.

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Bradford said landlords should be urged to use discretion and flexibility in collecting rent, and programs should be prepared to help businesses after the outbreak subsides.

“Local businesses employ some 650,000 people in this city. Maintaining the health of these businesses as we maintain our personal health is critical for the long-term strength of our communities,” he said.

Lawvin Hadisi, a spokesperson for Tory, responded to the letter in a statement sent to Global News on Sunday.

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“Mayor Tory has repeatedly said that the City’s businesses and employees need support from their government during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Hadisi said.

“He has pledged to have the backs of residents and businesses during this difficult time. The mayor is encouraged by the action taken by both the federal and provincial governments so far but knows there is more work to be done. As the mayor said last week, over the coming weeks he will be leading the City’s efforts to help residents and businesses with the help of Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson and other city officials.”

Hadisi said Tory will also be engaging with business leaders this week to discuss ways to help residents and businesses.

“The mayor also announced Friday — and repeated the message today on Twitter — that he is calling on landlords to offer accommodation to tenants with a focus on small business tenants,” Hadisi said.

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On Friday, in an address to the nation from self-quarantine, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government would be creating an economic aid package to help mitigate financial effects from the pandemic, the full details of which have not yet been revealed.

Reuters reported the package could be valued up to $20 billion.

Finance Minister Bill Morneau said $10 billion would be available through the Business Development Bank of Canada, most of which would go towards “small and medium-sized enterprises.”

The Band of Canada also cut its overnight rate target by half a percentage point to 0.75 per cent.

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Ontario Premier Doug Ford welcomed both actions by the federal government but called for further reassurance for businesses and families.

“Our priority is ensuring coordination between the provinces, territories and the federal government to safeguard the health and well-being of Canadians and protect jobs in the short term and our economy in the long term,” Ford said in a statement after a first ministers call.

Meanwhile, Tory remains in self-quarantine after a recent business trip to the United Kingdom.

— With files from Andrew Russell and Amanda Connolly

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.