KITCHENER -- The provincial government announced $695 million in funding for communities across the province Wednesday, to help offset some of the expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guelph will receive $6.9 million in emergency operating funds, and another $5.1 million for transit costs.

The Region of Waterloo will receive a total of $43 million.

It's all part of the Safe Restart Agreement, a partnership between the provincial and federal governments. Up to $4 billion will be split between municipalities so they can continue to deliver critical public services, including public transit and shelters. The money will be handed out in two phases.

“This funding is absolutely critical for Guelph to cover costs associated with COVID-19,” said Scott Stewart, the city's Chief Administrative Officer in a press release. “This is certainly welcome news as we prepare next year’s budget. We’re still being careful to manage costs and prepare for the possibility of a second wave of the virus.”

Guelph says it’s spent $3.6 million since the start of the pandemic. That includes costs for additional cleaning and supplies, personal protective equipment, installing plexi-glass barriers and other infrastructure to meet public health guidelines.

Lost revenues from recreation, transit, parking and other fees is projected to cost the city $20.7 million this year. To address this, Guelph says it’s stopped all discretionary spending, laid off temporary staff members, paused non-critical hiring, and reduced service levels. They expect it will save the city $14.3 million by the end of 2020.