By The Canadian Press
WINNIPEG — Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister is pleased with new federal help to reopen the economy amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Pallister says unlike some previous cases such as health-care negotiations, the provinces stuck together this time and got a better deal from Ottawa.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will contribute $19 billion under the Safe Restart Agreement to help provinces fund things such as child care, contact tracing and personal protective equipment.
There is also money to bail out municipal governments.
Trudeau had promised $14 billion in early June, but several premiers said they needed more money and also resisted some of the conditions the federal Liberals wanted to put on the deal.
Pallister says the end result will help fight the pandemic’s health and economic impacts, and Manitoba’s share works out to roughly $380 million.
“I think the important thing is that, as opposed to some past discussions where premiers were drawn away from supporting other premiers, the premiers stuck together and they stood for what they wanted and largely got it,” Pallister said Thursday.
Pallister said the federal government also agreed to a demand to be responsible for paid sick leave, and said it makes sense to have a national program instead of different provincial ones.
The premier said Manitoba municipalities can expect their share fairly soon.
“I talked to the other premiers and I would say the very greatest likelihood on the municipal piece is we would simply allocate it on a per-capita basis to get the money out quickly, because if you get into any other discussion it could delay.”
The federal package earmarks portions of its new funding for specific areas. Manitoba officials estimate the province will get $23.6 million for child care, $43 million for health care, $108 million for personal protective equipment and $72 million for municipalities.
There are other categories, including $108 million for COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and data management.