COVID-19 Update for July 17, 2020 – 11:15am
Yesterday’s announcement of the Safe Restart Agreement between the federal and provincial governments has set off a flurry of activity across the country, as every level of government works through the details.
Initial reaction has been largely positive – from across the political spectrum. Ontario Premier Doug Ford called it a great deal for Ontario and Canada. British Columbia Premier John Horgan particularly praised the paid sick-leave program on Twitter, saying “today’s news is good for all Canadians, and another step toward making sure no one feels pressured to go to work while they’re sick.” Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe told CBC the deal is “a step in the right direction as the provinces have been delivering the response to COVID-19. The cost has been far in excess of $19 billion across this nation, but this goes a great way to acknowledging some of that existing costs that has already occurred, and the cost that has yet to occur.”
Beyond government, Federation of Canadian Municipalities President Bill Karsten released a statement calling the agreement “a promising start at addressing the financial crisis municipalities face in this pandemic.”
Details of the Safe Restart Agreement
In order to access the $19 billion, provinces and territories will need to outline how they will invest these funds, which requires reporting and accounting of the spending.
Funding will be allocated primarily on a per capita basis, with some on a needs basis as well. Of what has been announced so far, Ontario is set to receive around $7 billion, BC will get roughly $2 billion, Nova Scotia about $250 million, and Newfoundland and Labrador about $146 million.
The agreement sets out $19 billion to be allocated along seven identified priority areas:
- Testing, contact tracing, and data management
- $4.28 billion to support provinces and territories with the costs of increasing their capacity to conduct testing, perform contact tracing, and share public health data that will help fight the pandemic, with the stated goal of ensuring a capacity to test up to 200,000 people per day, nation-wide.
- Health care system capacity
- $700 million to support capacity to respond to a potential future wave of COVID-19, and $500 million to address “immediate needs and gaps in the support and protection of people experiencing challenges related to mental health, substance use, or homelessness.”
- Vulnerable populations
- For Canadians receiving long-term care, home care, and palliative care, the agreement pledges $740 million to support one-time costs over the next six to eight months to control and prevent infections, which may include staffing issues in long-term care, home care and palliative care facilities and services.
- Up to $2 billion will be dedicated to help municipalities minimize the spread of COVID-19 and manage public spaces and critical services. Provincial and territorial governments will cost-match federal supports with investments made this fiscal year, and the federal government will cost-match around $1.8 billion to support additional provincial/territorial contributions to public transit.
- Personal protective equipment for workers
- $4.5 billion is committed for the federal government to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) for national use, with $3 billion to provinces and territories for PPE investments.
- Childcare for returning workers
- $625 million to “address the reduced availability of child care spaces and the unique needs stemming from the pandemic.”
- Pan-Canadian sick leave
- The federal government will fund a new temporary income support program, at an estimated cost of $1.1 billion, to support workers who do not already have access to other paid sick leave. Provinces and territories will establish job-protected sick leave that allows workers to take up to 10 days leave related to COVID-19.
You can read the full Government of Canada news release here.
We hope you are finding these COVID-19 updates useful. In addition to trying to keep on top of the fast-changing situation, Enterprise is also working to support local charities during these challenging times. If you are able, your contributions to this effort would be deeply appreciated.
To donate, please click on the organization below:
- Toronto – Food Banks Canada
- Thunder Bay – Food Banks North West
- Hamilton/Niagara – Hamilton Food Share
- Alberta – Hope Mission
Stay safe. Stay healthy.
The Enterprise Team