The federal government is providing $14 billion to the provinces and territories to help them “safely and carefully” reopen their economies — but the premier of Canada’s most populous province says it’s not nearly enough.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement at his daily news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage this morning, saying the money will help pay for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health care workers and businesses, and for child care so that parents can go back to work.
“Provinces and territories are facing different realities, so flexibility will be important, but here’s the bottom line: For seniors and people who need extra support, for kids and workers – this plan is here for you,” Trudeau said.
“With this safe restart agreement, we’re proposing a standard of support to keep every Canadian, right across the country, safe and healthy as we get our country back on their feet.”
Some of the money going to provinces and territories is meant to help them improve the state of long-term care, and to help municipalities continue providing core public services such as transit.
The government is saying little at this point about how the money will be carved up and when it will flow.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said it’s a “start” but $14 billion falls far short of what’s required to address the “massive need” in his province.
“The reality is, we have a $23 billion problem in Ontario, and $14 billion for all of Canada … just won’t cut it,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said government is taking a collaborative approach to fine-tuning the proposal.
“We really are approaching this by saying to the provinces and territories, ‘We understand that a safe restart is essential and that it is expensive,'” she said.
“We said from the beginning of this crisis — we are not going to quibble about federal-provincial responsibilities. We are going to be there to support Canadians across the country and that is what we’re doing here.”
Freeland also stressed that the federal funds are meant to help with the first six to eight months of economic recovery.
Trudeau also announced that Canadian
The government has announced emergency aid for unemployed Canadians, students, businesses and seniors, but advocates say that people with disabilities were falling through the cracks.
Many face increases in the cost of living, such as higher grocery bills and delivery service fees.
“Whether it’s buying PPE, or covering the cost of support workers, many Canadians with disabilities are facing unexpected bills that can be hard to pay,” Trudeau said.
Conservative MP Dan Albas, his party’s critic for employment, workforce development and disability inclusion, said the federal assistance programs announced to date have come with few details and delays in implementation.
“Parliament called on the Liberals weeks ago to provide more supports for people with disabilities. When it comes to delivering on programs to support people during this pandemic, the Liberals have let Canadians down,” he said.