MONTREAL -- Quebec and Ottawa will pay $2.3 billion to municipalities and public transit companies “as soon as possible” to alleviate COVID-19 costs and to initiate economic recovery.

Finance Minister Eric Girard, Transport Minister François Bonnardel, and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Andrée Laforest made the announcement in Montreal on Friday.

The $2.3 billion will be paid for equally by the provincial and federal governments. $1.2 billion will be reserved for public transit companies, which have faced a sharp drop in ridership pand revenues in 2020. This amount includes the $400 million in funding announced back in June.

Municipalities will be given $800 million to help avoid tax increases while maintaining regular services.

The remaining $300 million is a contingency reserve, Minister Girard said. The announcement was well received by the two major municipal unions.

-- this report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 25, 2020.