Canada: Trudeau sets to offer $19 billion to provinces to restart from Covid-19 lockdown

by Abdulmumeen S. Yitta

Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has announced that government would be giving out $19 billion as a safe restart fund to provinces that are in dire need of a financial boost to their economy as the country’s lockdown eases

Announcing the decision on Thursday July 16, 2020, at a press conference, Trudeau stated that the fund is to manage crisis occasioned by the pandemic and at the same time to forge ahead with plans to help the economy grow.

“When we talk about the recovery phase, it is 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,” he added.

Trudeau stated that the money, which is a top-up to the $14 billion offered to provinces in June, would go to specified areas in healthcare among which include testing and contract tracing, personal protective gear (PPE), and for long term care homes support.

The money would also be spent on transit, childcare and a ten-day paid sick leave program for municipalities.

The Prime Minister stated that the fund is essential to get the country back on its feet and regain its economy buoyancy.

Speaking about the need for the fund, Trudeau said, “If cities aren’t equipped for a safe restart. People will not be safe.

“If 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.”

Trudeau however stated that provinces could enjoy some degree of flexibility as to what other areas they could spend the money, but the money should be expended on the seven key areas outlined by the government.

“The money that is designated for safe child care spaces for example, the money designated for PPE, the money designated for testing and contact tracing will get spent in those areas,” stated Trudeau.

As a rough breakdown of the fund goes, $7.5 billion would be expended on PPE, $4.3 billion would go for testing and tracing, $3 billion for municipalities especially transit, healthcare capacity would attract $1.2 billion, $740 million would go to vulnerable populations such as the homeless and child care would receive $625 million, according to Scott Moe, Saskatchewan Premier.

The move by the government has been hailed by several other government officials as the right action at the right time.

According to Doug Ford, Ontario Premier, the deal is a huge success for the government and its people.

“The federal government is stepping up and supporting Canadians when they need it most,” he said.

Similarly, Toronto mayor, John Tory, expressed optimism that the move by the government would be of great help to Canadians.

“I am cautiously optimistic and confident this announcement will be helpful,” Tory said.

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