Safe Restart Agreement Response Letter: Premier of Alberta
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa ON K1A 0A2
Dear Prime Minister,
To protect the health of Canadians, all governments continue to work together effectively to manage the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic.
As part of these ongoing collaborative efforts, I am pleased to accept additional federal resources to support critical needs over the next six to eight months through the Safe Restart Agreement. These investments will help to protect public health and safety, prepare for potential future waves of the virus, and further support the safe reopening of economies across Canada.
First Ministers recognize that the territories face distinct challenges and circumstances, which will need to be addressed separately. First Ministers also recognize that smaller jurisdictions may require funding adjustments beyond per capita allocations.
This letter outlines Alberta's funding priorities under the Safe Restart Agreement reached between Canada and Alberta, to reflect our understandings on shared objectives and the funding commitments made in the seven priority areas. This letter, and the Appendix, represents the entire Safe Restart Agreement and terms reached between our two governments.
Alberta's specific allocation and other distribution details for each priority area are also set out and confirmed in the Appendix forming part of this correspondence
Testing, contact tracing, and data management
The goal of this investment is to help provinces and territories reach a collective capacity to test up to 200,000 people per day across Canada, as well as to improve their contact tracing capacities.
The Government of Canada will provide $4.28 billion to support provinces and territories with the costs of increasing their capacity to conduct testing, perform contact tracing, and share appropriate public health data that will help fight the pandemic. Funding and support will also be provided to provinces and territories to improve and modernize data management across Canada, to help all orders of government co-ordinate their efforts to contain the virus. Provinces and territories will share relevant information and data.
Alberta will use the funds to:
- Reimburse some incremental COVID-related spending from January 1, 2020, to August 31, 2020, including Alberta Precision Labs (APL) COVID-dedicated costs (including capital and operating) and COVID-related testing costs for scheduling, sample collection and contact tracing;
- With respect to future testing, for the remainder of fiscal 2020-21, federal support will be used for actual daily PCR testing. Alberta will seek to increase testing capacity from current levels of 12,000/day testing capacity to a peak of 22,000 tests per day; however, actual test numbers will depend on demand for testing;
- Data management and contact tracing spending includes apps associated with traveler self-isolation, single-site staffing and analytics/data management software;
- Expansion of MyHealth Records (MHR, Personal Health Record) to all test results;
- Phase 2 of Public Surveillance Information System (PSI);
- New and modified case management and tracing technologies and enhanced predictive and summative data modelling tools; and
- Human resource investments, including contact tracers, Business System Analysts, and epidemiologists.
Health-care system capacity
COVID-19 has increased the demands on health-care systems across Canada and placed additional strain on mental health. This investment is intended to support the health-care services and mental health supports that Canadians rely on, as each jurisdiction addresses the impacts of COVID-19.
The Government of Canada will provide $700 million to support health-care system capacity to respond to a potential future wave of COVID-19. A further $500 million will address immediate needs and gaps in the support and protection of people experiencing challenges related to mental health, substance use, or homelessness. This investment will help to keep Canadians safe and healthy with the health-care supports they need.
Alberta will use the funds to:
- Support the need for additional infection prevention and control in health care settings;
- Reduce the backlog of non-COVID procedures and enhance preparation for surge capacity;
- Address the coverage of one-time pandemic preparedness measures;
- Support the backfill or hiring of new health system staff, where required, to respond to COVID-19 while ensuring the regular operations of the health system; and
- Implement more online, phone and in-person mental health and addiction recovery support to make it easier for Albertans to access services from anywhere in Alberta, including:
- improving access to phone and online supports with existing helplines, including Addictions Helpline, Mental Health Helpline, Kids Help Phone, and Community and Social Services Helpline (Alberta 211);
- expand individual and group treatment to address family violence, addiction and mental health for Albertans;
- expand the addiction and mental health support available through Primary Care Networks;
- enhance community mental health and addiction recovery for the public, including Indigenous communities, seniors, families and people experiencing social barriers, who are negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic; and
- Some funding to provide the services listed above will be delivered to community serving organizations (e.g., charitable organizations, non-profits, faith organizations and small community groups) through a grant program.
Canadians receiving long-term care, home care, and palliative care are at an increased risk of more severe cases of COVID-19. As the economy restarts, it is important to have continued protections and supports in place for seniors, and provide health and social supports to other vulnerable populations.
The Government of Canada will provide $740 million to support costs over the next six to eight months for measures aimed at controlling and preventing infections. This could include addressing staffing issues in long-term care, home care, and palliative care facilities and services. Funding can also be used to support other vulnerable populations.
Alberta will use the funds to:
- Provide support for continuing care and lodge operators, including enhanced staffing, extra cleaning supplies, lost accommodation revenue, and paid student practicum positions;
- Support seniors the in community:
- Provide co-ordinated shielding for vulnerable seniors in community;
- Leverage technologies for vulnerable seniors and individuals living in rural/remote communities by improved access to equipment and infrastructure;
- Increase information and supports by:
- Enhancing social worker outreach and case management support to address elder abuse;
- Enhancing family caregiver supports, including community respite supports for caregivers of loved ones with dementia; and
- Adapting communication for diverse senior populations;
- Support seniors and other vulnerable Albertans in long-term care, continuing care, home care or palliative care and persons with disabilities living in congregate care settings:
- Increase staffing support;
- Cover one-time pandemic preparedness costs for non-wage measures for infection prevention and control;
- Support with enhanced staffing, PPE, and cleaning supplies and lower accommodations/rental income;
- Support vulnerable populations who use shelters/temporary housing including:
- Shelter capacity/temporary housing to support adequate social distancing and risk mitigation strategies;
- Address staffing needs required to maintain or increase shelter or program services, and to operationalize isolation and care facilities for individuals experiencing homelessness;
- Provide financial support for women's emergency shelters seeing any spike related to isolation requirements, service delivery adjustments and other negative consequences of the pandemic on domestic violence;
- Provide support to address and prevent family violence and sexual violence; and
- Support vulnerable populations most at risk, including funding to charities and civil society, to provide food security, immigrant and newcomer support, overcome challenges with living remotely, reduce family vulnerability, and technology and transportation supports.
Municipalities and transit
Municipalities are on the front lines of a safe restart of the economy and need to continue to put in place appropriate precautions to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and manage public spaces and critical services like public transit.
The Government of Canada will contribute up to $2 billion to support municipalities with COVID-19 operating costs for the next six to eight months. Provincial and territorial governments will continue to support municipalities and will cost-match federal supports with investments flowed this fiscal year for operating costs.
In addition, the Government of Canada will also contribute more than $2.3 billion to support any additional contributions by participating provinces or territories for public transit operating costs.
Funds for municipal and transit investments will be cost-shared 50/50. Contributions for municipal supports will recognize provincial and territorial operational investments flowed from April 1, 2020.
Alberta will use the funds to:
- Provide support to the 15 municipal transit systems in Alberta, to be used for incremental operating costs incurred due to COVID-19 response and restart, as well as other operating losses or deficits incurred as a result of COVID-19 impacts on revenues and operations. This includes the purchase of PPE, costs of additional cleaning, and replacement of revenues lost due to declines in ridership while still maintaining service; and
- Provide support to Alberta municipalities, including those that rely on tourism, which have experienced significant operating impacts due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Funding will support both incremental operating costs incurred due to COVID-19 response and restart, as well as other operating losses or deficits incurred as a result of COVID-19 impacts on revenues and operations. This includes purchases of PPE, additional supports for vulnerable populations, and replacement of revenues such as parking fees, recreation facility entrance fees, and building permit fees.
The municipal operating funds will be allocated largely on a per capita basis, with a small base amount allocated to each municipality. A portion of the funding will be set aside for the tourism centres of Banff, Jasper, and Canmore.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) for health and non-health workers
COVID-19 has added significant pressure to the procurement and supply of PPE for essential health workers and others. Both orders of government have made significant investments in this area and worked collaboratively to ensure availability of the required equipment at all stages of the pandemic.
To support the restart of the economy, the Government of Canada will commit $4 billion to purchase PPE for national distribution to provinces and territories and $500 million to support the purchase of PPE for the non-health sector, and commit $3 billion directly to provinces and territories for previous and planned PPE investments. To facilitate future procurement, provinces and territories will regularly share relevant PPE-related data with the Government of Canada.
Alberta will use the funds to:
- Continue to leverage the province's sophisticated approach and long-standing strategic supplier relationships to enable effective future procurement and supply chain management. Alberta has procured sufficient PPE for the province's health and non-health workforce, as well as nonmedical masks for public distribution. It has also developed a strategic stockpile, and early in the pandemic was able to donate PPE to Ontario and Quebec.
Child care for returning workers
The Government of Canada is working with provinces and territories to ensure sufficient child care is available so parents can gradually return to the workplace.
The Government of Canada will provide $625 million to help the sector adapt to the COVID-19 environment and address the reduced availability of child-care spaces and the unique needs stemming from the pandemic.
Alberta will use the funds to:
- Supply child-care spaces and increase availability of spaces for families of children with disabilities or at risk;
- Provide a time-limited grant to cover some fixed costs for preschool, day care and family day homes serving various age groups;
- Provide a time-limited grant to cover some fixed costs for out-of-school programs serving children of various age groups;
- Provide a one-time grant to programs based on reported enrollment; and
- Provide a one-time grant to early childhood educators that have returned to or remained working in the sector.
Pan-Canadian sick leave
To safely restart the economy, Canada must ensure that workers do not return to work if they have COVID-19 or are showing symptoms.
To encourage workers to remain at home and seek public health advice if they are showing symptoms, the Government of Canada will fund and deliver a new temporary income support program. The estimated $1.1 billion program will support workers who do not already have access to other paid sick leave. The federal government is responsible for all current and future costs of this program.
In Alberta, as of March 5, 2020, all employees who are required to self-isolate due to COVID-19 are eligible for 14 days of unpaid leave. All employees are eligible regardless of their length of service. Employees can take this leave more than once if needed, and they may still be eligible for other job-protected leaves. Employers and employees may explore alternate work arrangements, such as working from home.
First Ministers believe this funding must be put to use quickly to protect the health and safety of our citizens and to truly help restart the economy. In order to do so, the funding for all priorities will be transferred to Alberta through a direct single transfer. This single transfer is in addition to a September transfer for the second tranche of testing funding and is apart from the federal Pan-Canadian Sick Leave program and federal in-kind spending for testing, contact tracing, data management and PPE.
Each government will continue to report publicly on its actions, to maintain transparency and accountability to the citizens it serves.
Canadians have been well served by the strong, collaborative efforts demonstrated by First Ministers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. All First Ministers reaffirm their commitment to this approach, while they continue to address their top shared priority: the well-being and safety of all Canadians.
I look forward to the implementation of the Safe Restart Agreement and our continued collaboration.
Hon Jason Kenney PC
Premier of Alberta
Appendix: Safe Restart Agreement Alberta AllocationFootnote *
|Priority Area||Funding Totals|
|Childcare for Returning WorkersFootnote 1||71,856|
|Health Care CapacityFootnote 2||139,946|
|Health Care CapacityFootnote 3||81,635|
|Mental Health and Problematic Substance UseFootnote 4||58,311|
|Vulnerable populationsFootnote 5||86,300|
|Municipalities (Federal Contribution)||303,244|
|$2B envelopeFootnote 6 Footnote 7||233,244|
|Provincial Cost-Matching Requirement||303,244|
|Testing, Contact Tracing & Data Mgt||349,865|
|Payment 1Footnote 9 Footnote 10||268,230|
|Payment 2 (Fall 2020)Footnote 11 Footnote 12||81,635|
|Personal Protective EquipmentFootnote 13||349,865|
|Provincial ProcurementFootnote 14 Footnote 15||349,865|
|Payment 2 (Fall 2020)||81,635|
|Including Provincial Support for Municipalities||1,604,320|
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