Region losing $4.8 million each month on user fees, court fines due to pandemic

The region has an operating shortfall of about $2 million a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s losing $4.8 million each month because it’s not charging user fees for things like transit and at dumps, as well as a loss of revenue from planning applications and provincial offences while courts are closed, a report from regional staff at a council meeting Wednesday night showed.

Transit services will continue but with people asked to board at the back of buses, away from the driver.

Other sources of revenues like child care centres, dumps, museums, the airport, courts and libraries are closed or have significantly reduced service. 

As well, there are additional expenses expected when it comes to housing, income support and helping people who are homeless, although regional staff say it’s hoped some of those costs may be offset by funding from the federal and provincial governments.

But the region is also seeing cost savings of about $2.8 million with service reductions, hiring freezes of approximately 70 non-critical staff and summer positions and by early May there will be 350 temporary layoff notices given to staff at transit, libraries, museums and some clerical positions.

The region will be asking both the federal and provincial governments to create a municipal financial assistance program “to offset the significant financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the region said in a release.

Transit fare increases deferred

During the meeting on Wednesday, regional councillors voted in favour of deferring a planned two per cent fare increase for Grand River Transit until further notice and also decided to defer plans to get rid of age-based transit service discounts.

The fare increase was set to go into effect on July 1.

As well, council voted not to go ahead with two planned urban bus service expansions and one conventional rural bus service expansion this year.

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