A struggle continues on another front in the battle to save lives in Manitoba. There’s an economic emergency and urgency to provide increasing COVID-19 test availability, providing personal protective equipment for frontline workers and financial relief to individuals and businesses.
Pallister stated Monday, April 20 in a press conference, “We’re asking people to participate in sharing resources with frontline people.” He added, “We are into hundreds and hundreds of millions (dollars) for Person Protective Equipment.”
Crown corporations and publicly funded agencies whose workloads have decreased due to COVID-19 restrictions, have been asked to develop a plan to financially save the province between 10 to 30 per cent during this crisis.
Pallister defended this strategy, calling it a responsibility toward Manitobans, saying the province is facing “real challenges that are without precedent.”
He is calling upon all who depend upon government funding to look for savings.
When asked if the student employment program, STEP Services with the Government of Manitoba will continue for spring and summer student work, the premier stated Monday, “We will have more to say on that… the step program will continue.”
At the end of last week, Central Services Minister Reg Helwer announced that the Manitoba government is investing an additional $300 million to ensure the government can respond quickly to front-line health-care needs and protect vulnerable Manitobans
“Our government has already fast-tracked $100 million in response to the outbreak of COVID-19 through our Manitoba Protection Plan,” said Helwer. “Today, we’re quadrupling our commitment to $400 million for the COVID-19 Procurement Fund to ensure… that we can continue to be proactive in the steps we take to protect Manitobans during this pandemic.”
Manitoba invests in planning and prevention
Funds are being used for:
• purchasing essential medical supplies and equipment, including PPE
• developing hotel capacity for those requiring isolation;
• preparing for large-scale low acuity medical overflow for hospitals;
• supporting made-in-Manitoba production of gowns, scrubs, gloves and other medical equipment including an RFP to award $15 million of production to Manitoba-designed reusable silicone N95 masks;
• providing training and grants to child-care experts to become entrepreneurs by opening small-scale daycares;
• establishing a COVID-19 research fund through Research Manitoba;
• providing digital online service for mental health support;
• creating https://helpnextdoormb.ca/ to link Manitobans needing help with volunteers;
• engaging local call centre, 24-7 Intouch, to contact Manitobans to drive awareness of government support programs to small businesses, charities and not-for-profits; and
• opening multiple provincewide testing sites to bolster the response to this health crisis.
The Manitoba government has also undertaken a number of investments to provide immediate relief to Manitobans facing financial challenges by deferring provincial fees and charges, funding support for child-care services for critical service providers and expanding shelter capacity to support people affected by homelessness, noted Helwer.
The province is asking manufacturers/businesses to visit the COVID-19 portal at www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/business/index.html if:
• they can rapidly scale up production or re-tool manufacturing lines to develop products made in Manitoba to help in the fight against COVID-19; or
• they have a stock of personal protective equipment that is not being used due to closures and physical distancing.
Manitoba businesses can donate unused personal protective equipment supplies in original packaging, clean and in useable condition. More information can be found at https://sharedhealthmb.ca/covid19/supply-donations/.