The federal government has reached an agreement with the provinces and territories for more than $19 billion in transfers as part of the safe restart agreement.
“As part of this agreement, we’ve outlined seven priority areas on which to focus our efforts, like increasing testing and contact tracing, securing more personal protective equipment, and more support for the most vulnerable, including for seniors in long-term care facilities and nursing homes,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a news conference.
The Prime Minister said the money is intended to address the needs of provinces and territories over the next 6 to 8 months. The funds need to be used for the priority areas and can’t be shifted around. Trudeau added that there will be required transparency around how the money is spent.
Ottawa previously pledged $14 billion, but a number of premiers said it wasn’t enough.
Trudeau says COVID-19 is an economic crisis as well as a health crisis.
“So when we talk about the recovery phase, it’s not just about making sure we can detect, control, and prevent future outbreaks,” said Trudeau.
“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.”
Municipalities will get assistance too. Toronto mayor John Tory says his city faces a $1.35 billion budget shortfall. Along with funding for operational costs, transit is a key priority.
“If we want people to participate in the economy, they need to be able to get to work safely,” said Trudeau.
“No one should have to turn down a job because they don’t want to risk their health during their commute.”
Ontario Premier Doug Ford called the agreement desperately needed COVID-19 relief funding. The province’s share is approximately $7 billion dollars.
“This is good, this is great actually, not even good, this is a great deal for Canada and it’s a great deal for Ontario.”
Trudeau also said the border with the U.S. will be closed until August 21.
Jessy Bains is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jessysbains.