Safe Restart Agreement Response Letter: Premier of New Brunswick

The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
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 New Brunswick's funding priorities under the Safe Restart Agreement reached between Canada and New Brunswick; to reflect our understandings on shared objectives and the funding commitments made in the seven priority areas. This letter, and its Appendix, represents the entire Safe Restart Agreement and terms reached between our two governments.

New Brunswick'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 coordinate their efforts to contain the virus. Provinces and territories will share relevant information and data for suspect individuals moving from a province to another or regarding travels at the international border.

As a result of COVID-19, our Government has placed a significant priority on testing, and agrees that enhanced capacity for testing, contact tracing, and data management are essential to mitigate future outbreaks.

The funding provided under the Safe Restart Agreement will help New Brunswick invest in the needed supplies, capital and operations to ramp up testing capacity from a baseline of 300 tests per day to between 2,500 and 3,000 tests per day. The funding will also be put towards investments for contact tracing human resources and supporting infrastructure. This may include access to federal employees to support contact tracing efforts.

As part of this agreement, the federal government will work with New Brunswick to invest and support provincial efforts around data that can contribute and help build a national data management system to facilitate the sharing of timely and comprehensive information they deem relevant within, and among, governments. More specifically, New Brunswick will share both, available testing data as well as information related to the inventory and procurement of testing supplies.

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 systems 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.

COVID-19 has placed significant demands on our New Brunswick health care system. Our Government has made substantial investments to ensure its health care system has the capacity to respond to the pandemic.

The funding provided under the Safe Restart Agreement will help supplement these measures over the next six to eight months. Specifically, New Brunswick's funding will be used to address costs associated with our COVID-19 response including, but not limited to:

The response to COVID-19 has also exacerbated mental health challenges, and in many regions of the country the pandemic is compounding ongoing public health crises related to high rates of opioid overdose and deaths as well as acute substance use harms. The funding provided under the Safe Restart Agreement will help support activities to protect people who use substances as well as those experiencing mental health challenges.

The funding will also help support activities to protect people who use substances as well as those experiencing mental health challenges, including the enhancement of regional community-based service delivery capacity.

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 long-term care, home care, and palliative care facilities and services. Funding can also be used to support other vulnerable populations.

New Brunswick will take measures such as: threat risk assessments and related  mitigation measures to ensure readiness across vulnerable sectors/institutions; infection prevention and control training; creation of workforce stability plans for care providers; registries for personal support workers with attention to training, certification, and professional development; capital investments for measures such as changes to room configurations, ensuring location capacity and purchase of plexiglass; and other actions as appropriate, including but not limited to the following non-wage 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.

With respect to incremental costs related to COVID-19, the province will work with the federal government to identify a series of funds to support municipalities on operating costs for the next 6-8 months. This would include PPE, staffing, operating requirements, public transit, schedule management, staffing guidance, and monitoring public areas such as parks, restaurants, campgrounds, etc.

Over this fiscal year, the Province will have provided over $215 million to local governments in equalization grants, the grant in lieu of taxes, the HST operating grant and the municipal designated highway program. These investments are publicly reported through Annual Public Reports and Main Estimates. These investments will help offset the nearly $20 million in additional expenses and lost revenue incurred as a result of the COVID pandemic. Local governments have faced rising costs and reduced revenue as they work to maintain the delivery of critical services and protect residents and local businesses during the recovery phase. Millions have been lost in user fees; transit fares; parking revenues; conference, festival and event cancellations. The Safe Restart Agreement could cover local government investments in precautionary measures including cleaning and PPE, to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and manage public spaces and critical services.

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 stage 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.

New Brunswick will continue to make substantial investments to support the existing child care spaces to remain available and operational within current health guidelines. This includes screening and temperature checks of staff and children, protected bubbles of children particularly at beginning and end of days, as well as purchase of sanitization materials and resources to maintain increased cleaning protocols throughout the day.

Our Government will make investments to support expenses related to delivering childcare, while adapting to COVID-19. This would include costs associated with additional staffing required to maintain protected bubbles and/or to adapt hours of service in order to support parents' workforce participation, as well as those related to maintaining enhanced cleaning requirements.

New Brunswick has made substantial investments to ensure child care spaces remain available. Our Government will make investments to support expenses related to delivering childcare, including support for new and  existing  spaces  and  support  to  parents,  while  adapting  to  COVID-19 (e.g., capital renovations, additional staff, enhanced cleaning requirements, other).

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.

New Brunswick has a COVID-19 Emergency Leave Regulation in place providing job protection for employees impacted by COVID-19. There is no limit placed on the duration of the leave. The emergency leave is available to employees who are sick due to COVID-19 or are providing care or support to persons in a close family relationship because of matters related to COVID-19. It is also available to someone who is required to be in isolation or in quarantine because:

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 New Brunswick 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.

Yours sincerely,

Blaine M. Higgs

Appendix - Canada- New Brunswick 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;
      • $1,282 in transfers and federal support
    3. New Brunswick Allocation ($M) - $61.696
  2. Health Care System Capacity
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $1,200
    2. Allocation Details - Per capita cash transfer
    3. New Brunswick Allocation ($M) - $24.679
  3. Vulnerable Populations
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $740
    2. Allocation Details - Per capita cash transfer
    3. New Brunswick Allocation ($M) - $15.218
  4. Municipalities and Transit
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $2,000 (municipalities) + $2,300 (transit)
    2. Allocation Details
      • Municipalities - per capita cash transfer, cost shared at 50/50;
      • Transit - cash transfer as applicable, cost shared at 50/50;
      • Provincial and territorial operational investments flowed from April 1, 2020 are recognized
    3. New Brunswick Allocation ($M) - $41.131
  5. PPE
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $7,500
    2. Allocation Details
      • $3,000 per capita cash transfer;
      • $4,500 in federally-delivered support
    3. New Brunswick Allocation ($M) - $61.696
  6. Child Care for Returning Workers
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $625
    2. Allocation Details - Base ($2M/jurisdiction) plus per capita cash transfer
    3. New Brunswick Allocation ($M) - $14.319
  7. Pan-Canadian Sick Leave
    1. Federal Investment ($M) - $1,100
    2. Allocation Details - Federal Delivery
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