Safe Restart Agreement Response Letter: Premier of Nova Scotia

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 (SRA). 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 will identify how Nova Scotia will invest funds under the Safe Restart Agreement reached between Canada and Nova Scotia to reflect our understandings on shared objectives and the funding commitments made in the seven priority areas based on our understanding of the pandemic in July 2020.

Nova Scotia'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 public health data that will help fight the pandemic. Funding and support will also be provided 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 also share information and data, including disaggregated data (e.g. race-based and other demographic data).

Nova Scotia has developed a robust testing, tracing and data management strategy in partnership with the office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Nova Scotia Health Authority, the QEII microbiology lab, and provincial government departments.

The strategy includes measures to:

Nova Scotia intends to access federal resources to support training and contact tracing efforts as appropriate. The province is also interested in implementing the federal government's exposure notification app once it becomes available.

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.

Nova Scotia health care system priorities include measures to:

Mental health and addiction priorities include measures to:

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 non-wage related staffing issues, in long-term care, home care, and palliative care facilities and services. Funding can also be used to support other vulnerable populations.

Nova Scotia priorities include measures to:

These measures will help inform discussions of health ministers on standards for supportive care, including long­term care and home care, building on work from the Common Statement of Principles on Shared Health Priorities and recent studies and reports.

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 for operating costs.

Funds for municipal and transit investments will be cost-shared 50/50. Contributions for municipal supports recognize provincial and territorial operational investments from April 1, 2020.

Nova Scotia will provide a direct and verifiable transfer to municipalities for the appropriate amounts without claw backs of other forms of planned municipal assistance.

Since April 1, 2020, Nova Scotia has committed more than $100 million to support municipal operations and to help address the impact of COVID-19 (see Appendix B). Federal funding will provide much needed support for continued municipal pressures estimated to reach approximately $67 million based on a survey conducted by the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities. Under the SRA, funding designated for transit will be allocated to regional municipalities based on needs identified in the NSFM survey; the remainder will be distributed to all municipalities according to the gas tax formula.

Incremental funding will help municipalities:

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. Additionally, Nova Scotia has centralized its forecasting, modelling, purchasing, warehousing and distribution of PPE in response to 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.

Nova Scotia priorities include measures to:

I would also add that Nova Scotia has agreed to collaborate with Health Canada on the Pan-Canadian modelling project.

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.

Nova Scotia priorities include measures to:

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.

Nova Scotia has a provision for job-protected sick leave due to COVID-19:

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 Nova Scotia 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 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.

Honourable Stephen McNeil, M.L.A.
Premier of Nova Scotia

Appendix A - Canada-Nova Scotia Safe Restart Agreement Investment Details

  1. Testing, Contact Tracing, and Data Management
    1. Federal Investment - $4.282B
    2. Allocation Details
      • Per capita allocation
      • $3.0B cash transfer in two installments
      • $1.28B in transfers and federal support
    3. Nova Scotia Allocation
      • Total - $77.291M
      • Payment 1 - $59.257M
      • Payment 2 (Fall 2020) - $18.034M
  2. Health Care System Capacity
    1. Federal Investment - $1.200B
    2. Allocation Details - Per capita cash transfer
    3. Nova Scotia Allocation
      • Total - $30.916M
      • Health Care Capacity - $18.035M
      • Mental Health and Addiction - $12.882M
  3. Vulnerable Populations
    1. Federal Investment - $740M
    2. Allocation Details - Per capita cash transfer
    3. Nova Scotia Allocation - $19.065M
  4. Municipalities and Transit
    1. Federal Investment - $2B (municipalities) + $2.3B (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 from April 1, 2020 are recognized
    3. Nova Scotia Allocation
      • $2B envelope - $51.527M
      • Transit - $16M
  5. PPE
    1. Federal Investment - $7.55B
    2. Allocation Details
      • $3.0B per capita cash transfer
      • $4.55B in federally delivered support
    3. Nova Scotia Allocation - $77.291M
  6. Child Care for Returning Workers
    1. Federal Investment - $625M
    2. Allocation Details - Base ($2M/jurisdiction) plus per capita cash transfer
    3. Nova Scotia Allocation - $17.432M
  7. Pan-Canadian Sick Leave
    1. Federal Investment - $1.1B
    2. Allocation Details - Federal Delivery

Appendix B - Investment in municipalities since April 1, 2020

The following table itemizes operational funding the government of Nova Scotia has invested in the province's municipalities since April 1, 2020, proposed for cost-sharing.

Operational Funding to municipalities - April 1, 2020 - March 31, 2021
Municipal Funding Description Amount
Municipal Financial Capacity Operating Grant Direct transfer to municipalities in the form of unconditional grants for the provision of municipal services $32,050,000
Municipal Provincial GIL Operating Grant Compensates municipalities fully for provincially-owned properties within their borders $21,171,900
Municipal Nova Scotia Power Inc. (NSPI) GIL Operating Grant Operating grant to compensate municipalities fully for NSPl-owned properties within their borders. $15,895,700
Municipal Farm Land Operating Grant Active farmland is exempt from property tax. Province compensates municipalities for lost revenue. $1,888,092
Municipal Fire Protection Operating Grant Offsets cost of providing fire protection services on provincial properties. $1,349,000
HST Offset Operating Grant Offsets increased costs to municipalities as a result of HST. $6,000,000
PPE Funding Direct funding to municipalities for personal protective equipment due to COVID $500,000
Stimulus Road paving and maintenance Increase in operating funding portion for road paving in municipal boundaries $10,000,000
Municipal Operating Loan Admin Fees Savings Municipal Finance Corporation usually charges municipalities 1% for cost of debentures as an admin fee. MFC waived the fee this fiscal year. $3,800,000
Municipal Operating Loan Interest Savings Projected interest savings if municipalities used their line of credit at prime rate rather than participating in the new $380 million lending program established to help address
impact of COVID on deferred or lost revenues.
Total proposed for cost-Matching   $102,914,692

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