Government of Canada investing an additional $150 million in better ventilation for schools, hospitals, and other public buildings

News release

Ottawa, Ontario, April 14, 2021— As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to have an unprecedented impact on communities across Canada, the health and well-being of Canadians remains the top priority of the Government of Canada.

Today, the Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities, announced $150 million for better ventilation in public buildings to help reduce the risk of aerosol transmission of COVID-19.

These investments will help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission by funding projects to assess, monitor, and improve indoor air quality and ventilation, including upgrades or conversions of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, as well as community-based solutions in Indigenous communities.

Indigenous Services Canada and Crown-Indigenous Relations and Northern Affairs Canada will deliver $30 million of the funds to projects that directly benefit First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities to help address the unique challenges they face. The balance of the funding, $120 million, will be available to provincial, territorial, municipal and local governments (and Indigenous communities via respective provincial and territorial governments) as a top-up to the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Resilience stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program.  

The COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream, announced in August 2020, was introduced to help flow more funding to provinces and territories faster so that work could begin quickly and safely, protecting jobs and supporting communities across Canada. Under this stream, the federal government is investing up to 80% for projects located in provinces and up to 100% for projects located in territories or with Indigenous recipients. The COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream is being extended by two years to allow more time for provinces and territories to benefit from an increased federal cost-sharing. This will allow for a broader range of vital infrastructure projects, such as health facilities, shelters and emergency services buildings. Projects must start construction by September 30, 2023.

Through the COVID-19 Resilience stream, over $3 billion is available to provide provinces and territories with added flexibility to fund quick-start, short term projects. Several ventilation improvement projects have been funded under the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream, such as the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Prince Edward Island, which is receiving more than $870,000 in federal funding to improve the air exchange system and energy efficiency in its post-surgical and pediatric unit.  

Infrastructure Canada is working with its provincial and territorial government partners to amend Integrated Bilateral Agreements to ensure that funds flow quickly and help protect the health of Canadians.

Quotes

“The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the wellbeing of people right across the country. All Canadians, from students to seniors, need clear air where they gather—in schools, health facilities, shelters and emergency services buildings. That’s why the Government of Canada is investing an additional $150 million with provinces, territories and Indigenous communities in ventilation projects to improve air quality in public buildings. This funding will support the federal government’s effort to help Canadians get through the pandemic safely, create good jobs across the country, and build stronger, more resilient communities.”

The Honourable Catherine McKenna, Minister of Infrastructure and Communities

“Everyone deserves to feel confident that the air they are breathing in is safe. This investment will support Indigenous communities and their leadership to implement community-based solutions to respond to the spread of COVID-19. From coast-to-coast-to-coast, First Nations, Inuit and Métis communities are working hard to keep their citizens and Elders safe – we thank them for their leadership as we continue to work together to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.”

The Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations

“The health and wellbeing of First Nations peoples are my department’s highest priorities. This new investment will aid First Nations communities and partners in the fight against COVID-19 by funding critical ventilation upgrades to infrastructure most susceptible to COVID-19 spread.”

The Honourable Marc Miller, Minister of Indigenous Services

“Ensuring that the air we breathe is safe and clean is essential to protecting the health of Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future. These investments will ensure that Northern, Territorial, and Indigenous partners have the resources they need to implement local solutions, update ventilation systems, monitor air quality, and keep communities healthy and safe.

The Honourable Dan Vandal, Minister of Northern Affairs

“No matter where Canadians are, they need to be able to breathe clean air. Good indoor ventilation is an important element that, when layered with personal preventative measures, can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Today’s investment is just one step that we are taking to keep Canadians safe and healthy—through the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”

The Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health

Quick facts

  • The first line of defence against COVID-19 continues to be:

    • reducing contact with persons outside your household;
    • interactions of short duration;
    • maintaining physical distancing;
    • proper use of well-fitting masks;
    • proper hand hygiene.
  • Improving indoor air quality through increased ventilation is an additional step.  Ventilation, whether through the opening of windows or the use of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems, can increase the amount of outside air brought inside. This will dilute the number of viral particles in the air, and help to reduce the risk of exposure.

  • Through the Investing in Canada plan, the Government of Canada is investing more than $180 billion over 12 years in public transit projects, green infrastructure, social infrastructure, trade and transportation routes, and Canada’s rural and northern communities.

  • The COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream of the Investing in Canada plan, announced in August 2020, is responding directly to the immediate pressures and concerns of Canadians to address the current pandemic, with new eligible project categories, faster approvals, and an increased federal cost share for public infrastructure projects—80 per cent in the provinces, and funding 100 per cent of the cost of projects in the territories and for projects with Indigenous recipients.

  • Given the urgency of the public health crisis, and the critical need for additional protective measures to control the spread of COVID-19, for the first year of the program costs for approved projects will be retroactively eligible to December 1, 2020 for the $120 million portion of the fund being delivered through the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream, which would help to expand aid offered to recipients in this crisis situation and allow recipients to initiate new projects on a risk-managed basis until funding agreements can be signed.

  • This funding complements existing federal programs that fund building ventilation upgrades such as Health Canada’s Safe Long-term Care Fund, Employment and Social Development Canada’s Preventing Outbreaks in Shelters Initiative, the Safe Return to Class Fund and Indigenous Services Canada’s Safe Return to First Nations Schools on Reserve.

  • The Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program is delivered through bilateral agreements with all provinces and territories to make unprecedented investments in public infrastructure.

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Contacts

Chantalle Aubertin
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Infrastructure and Communities
613-949-1759
chantalle.aubertin@canada.ca

Adrienne Vaupshas
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Indigenous Services
adrienne.vaupshas@canada.ca

Media Relations
Infrastructure Canada
613-960-9251
Toll free: 1-877-250-7154
Email: infc.media.infc@canada.ca
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