Provincial and territorial governments have come a deal with the federal government, and as a result will be receiving billions of dollars in transfers in order to safely continue reopening vital services during the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Canada’s federal government has agreed to contribute a total of $19 billion under the Safe Restart Agreement. The funds will be distributed according to population sizes, and will help provinces with various expenses including child care, health care including mental health resources, aiding vulnerable populations, funding personal protective equipment, as well as public transit. Moreover, provinces can allocate portions of the funds towards helping their respective municipal governments with surging expenses amid declining revenues.
The Safe Restart Agreement also includes a sick leave provision, which will provide up to 10 days of paid sick leave in order to deter those working in hazardous conditions from coming to work ill. However, some provincial governments argued that the funds should not come attached with conditions, and instead allow provinces to allocate the money as they see fit. Nonetheless, Justin Trudeau outlined several priority areas that need to be addressed with the $19 billion, such as increased coronavirus testing and support for vulnerable people.
However, the Safe Restart Agreement does not include a provision for public education, given that it is overseen by provincial governments. With a new school year approaching in the fall, many parents are becoming increasingly worried if their children will be able to physically attend school.
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