On July 16, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a federal investment of more than $19 billion that will provide support to Canadians through the Safe Restart Agreement. The purpose of the investment is to help Canada's provinces and territories safely restart their economies and become more resilient to future waves of COVID-19.
A key priority of the investment is to encourage workers who lack paid sick leave to remain at home when they have COVID-19 or its symptoms. This will be achieved through the creation of a temporary income support program that will provide each worker with a job-protected leave of absence of 10 paid sick days related to COVID-19. Each province and territory will have to establish the leave for its own jurisdiction by enacting its own regulation or legislation. The program's eligibility criteria and duration have not yet been announced. The estimated cost of the program across Canada is $1.1 billion.
Other priorities of the Safe Restart Program investment include:
- Testing, contact tracing, and public health data management;
- Support for the health care system capacity to respond to a potential future wave of COVID-19, and address needs and gaps in support for people experiencing challenges related to mental health, substance abuse, or homelessness;
- Protections and supports to control and prevent infections in seniors and other vulnerable populations, e.g., addressing staffing issues in long-term care, home care, and palliative care facilities and services;
- Procurement of personal protective equipment;
- Funding to enable municipalities to deliver essential services, e.g., public transit; and
- Ensuring the availability of safe child care for parents returning to work.
Federal legislation has not yet been passed to authorize this investment. We will be following developments as they occur and provide an update.
Originally published July 20, 2020.
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