Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Thursday that a $19 billion deal has been reached between the federal government and the provinces and territories to help local economies rebound from the pandemic.
Trudeau said the funds will help communities prepare for a potential second wave and will go towards boosting testing capabilities, stockpiling personal protective equipment, and advancing municipal transportation.
The funds are a revisal to a pre-announced “safe-restart agreement” that had an initial price tag of $14 billion. Talks have been ongoing over the last several weeks between the federal government and the provinces and territories over the scale of support needed.
“We’ve been working with our provincial and territorial partners to outline what needs to be done over the next six to eight months to safely restart our economy,” said the prime minister during a press briefing in Ottawa.
“As part of this agreement we’ve outlined seven priority areas on which to focus our efforts.”
He said this includes more testing and contact tracing, enhanced support for vulnerable communities – including seniors in long-term care facilities – and ensuring adequate childcare capacity.
“Our towns and cities have been at the forefront of responding to COVID-19. Cities must remain up and running if our economy is to eventually get back up and running. If cities aren’t equipped for a safe restart, people will not be safe.”
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland reflected on COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on women and families. She said beyond mandating mandatory 10-day paid sick leave, the agreement will address mechanisms to support women returning to work.
As detailed in last week’s fiscal snapshot, women have faced a much steeper decline in job loss since the pandemic took hold across the country and recent statistics show men are rebounding at a rate twice as fast as women as economies reopen.
There’s been a mounting call by activists for governments to address childcare needs across the country given the uncertainty around sending kids back to school in the fall. Many have criticized reopening plans that have prioritized the reopening of bars and malls instead of these facilities.
Asked whether the deal could be extended beyond six to eight months, Trudeau said the government would remain committed to supporting his provincial counterparts.