Safe Restart Agreement Response Letter: Premier of Manitoba

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A2

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau:

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 Manitoba's funding priorities under the Safe Restart Agreement reached between Canada and Manitoba; to reflect our understandings on shared objectives and the funding commitments made in the seven priority areas. This letter, and the attached Appendix, represent the entire Safe Restart Agreement and terms reached between our two governments.

Manitoba’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, and to improve their contact tracing capabilities.

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 coordinate their efforts to contain the virus. Provinces and territories will share relevant information and data.

This federal funding will help support work already undertaken by the Government of Manitoba to increase daily testing capacity from a baseline of 1,000 tests to more than 3,000 tests per day. This will be achieved through both Cadham Provincial Laboratory and contractual service arrangements with Dynacare; using additional dedicated processing capacity, enhanced systems and supplementary resources. Contact tracing capability will be actively monitored through enhanced and evolving surveillance and modelling tools - and will continue to be adjusted as required - under and through the oversight and coordination of Manitoba's Chief Provincial Public Health Officer.

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.

Federal funding will help support the Government of Manitoba's ongoing and extensive investments to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 and prepare for any potential surge in cases. Among many other initiatives, this includes investments of nearly $400M for the procurement of personal protective equipment and medical equipment, the expansion of acute medicine and critical care beds, developing low acuity overflow capacity, digital health initiatives, and other equipment and infrastructure upgrades.

In the area of mental health and problematic substance use, federal funding will support the range of measures undertaken by the Government of Manitoba as it continues to provide a client focused continuum of care to address multi-faceted challenges only compounded by the pandemic. These include, without limitation, a free internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy program, virtual physician visits, withdrawal management services, youth support lines, trauma counselling programs and Rapid Access to Addictions Medication (RAAM) clinics in Winnipeg, Selkirk, Thompson and Brandon.

Vulnerable populations

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 facilities and for services in long-term care, home care, and palliative care settings; and funding can also be used to support other vulnerable populations.

The Government of Manitoba continues to prioritize measures to protect residents and staff in supportive care facilities, as well as other vulnerable populations. Without limitation, these include adapting the provision of supportive care services based on public health guidance for infection prevention and control; supporting the health and safety of clients and staff through virtual physician visits; the construction of all-season safe visitation shelters at personal care homes; and creating and implementing a one-site staffing model at these facilities.

Federal funding will also be used to support priority Manitoba initiatives to protect other vulnerable populations, which could include individuals experiencing or at risk of homelessness, seniors, youth, households experiencing food insecurity, victims of gender­ based and family violence, Indigenous and remote communities, inmates and staff in the corrections system, and other population groups. Manitoba initiatives also support improved communications, sector capacity, physical distancing, cleaning, screening, PPE, and additional measures to maintain public health and safety.

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 over $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.

The Government of Manitoba responded quickly to support municipalities and advanced $129.45 million in flexible operating grants on May 6, 2020, and municipalities will receive an additional $43.15 million in September 2020.  This $172.6 million is in addition to Manitoba's current operational support of over $500M for a range of municipal services, programming, systemic capacity, and necessary prevention and resiliency measures.

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 $4.05 billion to purchase PPE for national distribution to provinces and territories, $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.

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.

Federal funding will help support the Government of Manitoba's work to ensure families can access child care - so children can continue to learn and grow in a safe and caring environment - as more parents return to work. Manitoba priorities include reducing obstacles that prevent parents from returning to work; modifications to child care sites, including through physical barriers, portable washing stations and potential expansion using satellite facilities; supporting smaller and home-based operators; other sector innovations to allow for greater distancing and safer service through increased cleaning protocols and the provision of sufficient PPE; and further assistance through short-term grants to providers.

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.

Where not already available, provinces and territories will seek to establish job protected sick leave so that workers can take advantage of the temporary new federal program.

Early legislative steps undertaken by the Government of Manitoba will fully facilitate federal delivery of this program. On April 15, 2020, legislation was passed to amend The Employment Standards Code, to introduce a new, unpaid public health emergency  leave for employees in Manitoba whose ability to work is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

First Ministers believe this funding must quickly be put to use 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 Manitoba 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, and data management and PPE.

Each government will continue to publicly report 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.


Brian Pallister

Appendix – Canada-Manitoba Safe Restart Agreement Investment Details

  1. Testing, Contact Tracing, and Data Management
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $4,282
    2. Allocation Details
      • Per capita allocation;
      • $3,000 cash transfer in two installments;
      • $1,282 in transfers and federal support
    3. Manitoba Allocation ($M) - $108.96
  2. Health Care System Capacity
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $1,200
    2. Allocation Details - Per capita cash transfer
    3. Manitoba Allocation ($M) - $43.58
  3. Vulnerable Populations
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $740
    2. Allocation Details - Per capita cash transfer
    3. Manitoba Allocation ($M) - $26.88
  4. Municipalities and Transit
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $2,000 (municipalities) + $2,300 (transit)
    2. Allocation Details
      • Municipalities - per capita cash transfer, cost shared at 50/50;
      • Transit – cash transfer as applicable, cost shared at 50/50;
      • Provincial and territorial operational investments flowed from April 1, 2020 are recognized
    3. Manitoba Allocation ($M) - $72.64 + $33
  5. PPE
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $7,550
    2. Allocation Details
      • $3,000 per capita cash transfer;
      • $4,550 in federally-delivered support
    3. Manitoba Allocation ($M) - $108.96
  6. Child Care for Returning Workers
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $625
    2. Allocation Details - Base ($2M/jurisdiction) plus per capita cash transfer
    3. Manitoba Allocation ($M) - $23.76
  7. Pan-Canadian Sick Leave
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $1,100
    2. Allocation Details - Federal Delivery

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