WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is rolling out a $100 million fund to assist businesses and homeowners affected by COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.
Premier Brian Pallister announced the investment Friday to accelerate the pace at which Manitoba is procuring essential medical supplies and equipment, hotel capacity and other critical needs to help prepare for COVID-19.
“Manitobans have always risen to the challenge and what we’ve seen so far during this pandemic is no exception,” said Pallister.
“This $100-million investment will allow us to support made-in-Manitoba products and solutions from local businesses to quickly help in our collective efforts to fight COVID-19 and protect Manitobans in the weeks and months ahead.”
Among the measures, Pallister announced cash flow tax relief for Manitobans by deferring provincial fees and charges for the next six months, up until October 1.
- Instructing Manitoba Hydro, Centra Gas and Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) to not charge interest or penalties in the event that Manitobans are unable to pay at this time;
- Instructing MPI to relax ordinary practices on policy renewals and collections;
- Instructing Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries not to charge interest on receivables from restaurants, bars and specialty wine stores;
- Supporting Workers Compensation Board (WCB) to do the same and asking WCB to extend relief from penalties for late payments;
- Directing Manitoba Hydro and Centra Gas to not disconnect customers during these times; and
- Working with municipal partners to ensure municipalities do not charge interest on provincial education taxes and school division fees and the province is encouraging municipalities to do the same with respect to their own taxes and will start discussions to support implementation.
The province also announced it will add more than 140 new shelter beds to support the homeless population and allow for social distancing protocols as part of its broader Manitoba Protection Plan response to COVID-19.
Up to $1.2 million will be invested at several locations in Winnipeg to:
- Repurpose a vacant Manitoba Housing building on Sargent Avenue to create 31 new beds;
- Add 35 beds provided by the Salvation Army at its Martha Street location;
- Expand Siloam Mission’s capacity by 50 beds; and
- Move individuals currently using the Salvation Army’s SonRise Village to alternate locations, making its 26 beds available for new clients.