Loading articles...

Ottawa boosts COVID-19 aid to provinces to more than $19 billion

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Jul 16, 2020 at 8:39 pm PDT

FILE - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to a question during a news conference, Wednesday, July 8, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Summary

The federal government is boosting COVID-19 aid to provinces to more than $19 billion

The funding will help provinces, municipalities safely restart their economies and prepare for a potential second wave

The funding for provinces and territories is $5 billion more than the $14 billion announced in June

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) — The federal government is boosting COVID-19 aid to provinces to more than $19 billion, with B.C. receiving about 10 per cent.

The funding will help provinces and municipalities safely restart their economies and prepare for a potential second wave of COVID-19. It will go towards increasing testing, contact tracing, personal protective equipment, cash for municipalities, transit, seniors care, childcare, and national sick leave.

It is $5 billion more than the $14 billion announced in June.

RELATED:

“Government will invest over $19 billion to ensure the provinces and territories have the support they need to protect the health of Canadians and help people get back to work safely and prepare for a potential second wave,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.

The funding is part of a six- to eight-month contract.

“COVID-19 isn’t just a health crisis. It’s an economic crisis, too. So when we talk about the recovery phase, it’s not just about making sure we can detect, control and prevent future outbreaks. It’s also about helping people, businesses, and entire communities adjust to our new normal. Because until we find a vaccine, the daily threat of COVID-19 will not disappear,” Trudeau added.

“In addition to buying more PPP so workers can follow public health guidelines at the office, we also have to make sure that people can get to work safely, children are looked after, and that those who can’t find work right away are supported.”

Part of the money will also help lower-tier governments with needs such as funding childcare.

“If cities aren’t equipped for a safe restart, people will not be safe. That’s why today’s agreement provides municipalities with funding to cover operational costs,” Trudeau said.

He also said employees can’t work if their children don’t have safe care, and the former can’t get to their jobs if they don’t have access to safe transit systems.

“So we’re going to give more support to transit. Specifically, we want people to participate in the economy. They need to be able to get to work safely. No one should have to turn down a job because they don’t want to risk their health during a crowded commute.”

Trudeau added the investment in municipalities and transit will be shared evenly between the federal and provincial governments.

He also confirmed the Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel until Aug. 21.

B.C. Premier John Horgan had pushed for a national sick pay program. He said later in the day he is proud $1.1 billion will go towards such a program.

Horgan also said B.C.’s portion of the COVID-19 aid funding is close to $2 billion.

Earlier in the week, the province projected a $12.5 billion budget deficit for 2020-2021, after forecasting a quarter-billion-surplus prior to the pandemic.