The AMO 2020 Conference kicked off virtually Monday morning, with updates from the Ontario government and discussion on innovating and pushing forward throughout COVID-19. One of the major themes of the first day was related to how to adapt and think of new ways to interact and deliver services in a more digital world. The first session detailed the importance of understanding how to network online and the shift away from in-person investments and networking. While this underlined many of the plenary and concurrent sessions, the Conference also provided updates and announcements from the provincial government.
Premier Ford announced an update on key funding available for municipal governments in order to deal with the impacts from COVID-19. This included an overview of funding through the Safe Restart Agreement and $500 million through the Municipal Partnership Fund. Further, Minister of Health, Christine Elliott gave an update on Ontario’s response to COVID-19 and the involvement from municipalities.
The Minister highlighted how Ontario has been able to ramp up testing quickly and the support that municipalities have provided. Throughout the Minister’s Forum several important issues were addressed, including how municipalities are expected to deal with homelessness, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. In addition, there were questions regarding broadband access and how the government will assist municipalities with providing access.
Finally, there were several concurrent sessions to conclude the day. The theme of these sessions remained centred upon how municipalities are able to adapt and respond to COVID-19. Further, one of the sessions discussed how to effectively go digital and be vigilant while being online. Overall, the day was full of productive discussion and touched on several issues pertinent to municipalities.
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