Safe Restart Agreement Response Letter: Premier of Saskatchewan
The Right Honourable Justin Trudeau, P.C., M.P.
Prime Minister of Canada
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON 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 Saskatchewan funding priorities under the Safe Restart Agreement reached between Canada and Saskatchewan 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.
Saskatchewan’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.
The Government of Saskatchewan will continue to pursue its goal of increasing testing capacity through investments in human resources, infrastructure and procurement. Testing capacity will be increased from a baseline of 1,500 tests per day to 4,000 tests per day. Saskatchewan will continue to share information on testing, contact tracing and procurement with the federal government and remain accountable to residents of Saskatchewan.
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 the Saskatchewan health care system. The Government of Saskatchewan has made substantial investments to ensure our system has the capacity to respond to the pandemic, prepare for surge capacity, and address wait times resulting from postponed elective procedures. Moving forward, Saskatchewan will continue to enhance infection prevention and control in health care settings, including through non-wage measures such as enhanced communications activities.
COVID-19 has also exacerbated mental health challenges, and the Government of Saskatchewan remains committed to enhancing mental health and other supports for all residents, particularly vulnerable populations. The province will continue to support the enhancement of regional community-based service delivery capacity. Furthermore, we will continue to work with community partners to enhance mental health supports, including phone and online options.
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.
The Government of Saskatchewan will continue to enhance supports for congregate care settings to prevent and control the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable populations. This includes, for example, providing staff, supplies, equipment and refurbishment to support infection protection and control measures. Saskatchewan will also enhance supports for Indigenous and northern communities, for example, by providing staff, supplies, food security, lodging and transportation. Other examples of support for vulnerable populations include making an investment in additional spaces for children and youth and continuing hotel isolation programs.
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 Saskatchewan has provided record levels of support to municipalities during COVID-19, including $278 million through Municipal Revenue Sharing (an increase of 11% from 2019-20) and $150 million through the Municipal Economic Enhancement Program to support investments in infrastructure. This funding supports the efforts of Saskatchewan municipalities to respond to COVID-19, as they work to enhance infection protection and control measures in their operations, including transit. Examples of these efforts include purchasing cleaning supplies, procuring personal protective equipment, modifying buses and bus shelters, replacing lost revenues due to declines in transit use, maintaining services and infrastructure and enhancing communications activities.
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.
The Government of Saskatchewan will continue to enhance supports for licensed child care facilities (e.g., grants to support additional costs like cleaning supplies, equipment and staff), to ensure the safety of children and staff and allow parents to return to work.
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.
The Government of Saskatchewan will facilitate implementation of the temporary federal sick leave program through necessary regulatory amendments pursuant to The Employment Standards Regulations. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Saskatchewan has already made amendments to extend job protection to all workers who are sick with the virus, no matter the length of service with the employer. In addition, a public health emergency leave has been established which enables employees to take leave when directed to isolate to prevent the spread of the virus during a public health emergency.
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 Saskatchewan 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 publically 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.
Appendix – Canada-Saskatchewan Safe Restart Agreement Investment Details
- Testing, Contact Tracing, and Data Management
- Federal Investment ($M) - $4,282
- Allocation Details
- Per capita allocation;
- $3,000 cash transfer in two installments;
- $1,282 in transfers and federal support
- Saskatchewan Allocation ($M) - $93.386
- Health Care System Capacity
- Federal Investment ($M) - $1,200
- Allocation Details - Per capita cash transfer
- Saskatchewan Allocation ($M) - $37.354
- Vulnerable Populations
- Federal Investment ($M) - $740
- Allocation Details - Per capita cash transfer
- Saskatchewan Allocation ($M) - $23.035
- Municipalities and Transit
- Federal Investment ($M) - $2,000 (municipalities) + $2,300 (transit)
- Allocation Details
- Municipalities - per capita cash transfer, cost shared at 50/50;
- Transit – cash transfer as applicable, cost shared at 50/50;
- Provincial and territorial operational investments flowed from April 1, 2020 are recognized
- Saskatchewan Allocation ($M) - $62.257 (municipalities) + $8.066 (transit)
- Personal Protective Equipment
- Federal Investment ($M) - $7,500
- Allocation Details
- $3,000 per capita cash transfer;
- $4,550 in federally-delivered support
- Saskatchewan Allocation ($M) - $93.386
- Child Care for Returning Workers
- Federal Investment ($M) - $625
- Allocation Details - Base ($2M/jurisdiction) plus per capita cash transfer
- Saskatchewan Allocation ($M) - $20.646
- Pan-Canadian Sick Leave
- Federal Investment ($M) - $1,100
- Allocation Details - Federal Delivery
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