Trudeau releases details on $19B in anti-COVID-19 spending as cabinet retreat wraps

OTTAWA — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau released details Wednesday of how provinces and territories will spend the $19 billion the federal government is giving them to safely restart the economy.

The details are in letters each premier has sent outlining how they intend to spend the money.

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Among other things, the funding will help increase testing and contact tracing, support the health care system, help municipalities deliver essential services like public transit and ensure a secure supply of personal protective equipment for frontline workers.

The money will also go towards increasing safe child-care spaces and income support for workers without paid sick leave.

Trudeau released the details just as he wrapped up two and a half days of cabinet meetings aimed at plotting a course through the COVID-19 health crisis.

Bold talk of an audacious plan to rebuild the battered economy gave way during the meetings to the more immediate challenge of confronting the potential for a second deadly wave of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Cases of COVID-19 have been on the rise across the country for the past several weeks.

Consequently, ministers have been focused almost exclusively on how to protect the health of Canadians and avert the potential for another economy-ravaging, nation-wide shutdown like the one that threw millions of Canadians out of work last spring.

The pandemic has already upended the government's plans to deliver on platform commitments upon which the Liberals won re-election just last fall, when the climate change crisis was at the top of their agenda.

Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna, who formerly led the Liberal charge against climate change, says the government has not forgotten the crisis even if the pandemic has shoved it to the sidelines for the moment.

Trudeau is to hold a news conference this afternoon at the conclusion of today's cabinet meeting.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2020.

© Virden Empire-Advance

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