Feds pledge $14-billion to help restart economy

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau -- Herald file photo.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced $14-billion in target spending to help provincial and municipal governments on Friday, but said cost breakdowns will have to wait for further consultation.

The funds will help pay for more personal protective equipment (PPE), increased childcare spaces, assistance for seniors, sick pay of up to 10 days for workers without benefits, and support for cities and municipalities.

Trudeau said there needs to be a Canada-wide plan to safely and effectively restart the economy, and this $14-billion injection would help do that.

“Having the right approach and the right resources to back it up will determine where we are, not just in the coming weeks, but into the fall and winter,” he said during a media update on Friday. “Canadians have sacrificed too much over the past couple of months to lose the progress we’ve made.”

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) called the announcement the “clearest commitment yet” to solving the financial crisis facing municipalities. However, they reiterated previous concerns that cities would need at least $10-billion to maintain frontline services.

“Municipalities have called for direct emergency funding from federal and provincial governments,” read a statement from the organization. “It needs to move fast and not get bogged down in jurisdictional wrangling, so we’re looking to provinces and to Ottawa for their urgent next steps.”

Transportation is the biggest concern. The FCM says roughly $2.4-billion of their $10-billion request is needed for municipal transit systems.

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland said transit funds were an vital part of helping cash-strapped cities, but added they haven’t discussed how to allocate the $14-billion in spending. She’s waiting on discussions with the province before making those decisions.

“We believe in that a collaborative approach is critical,” she said during a press conference. “We need to speak to the provinces and municipalities to be sure that an economic restart is healthy and will work for Canadians.”

Trudeau also announced a one-time non-taxable $600 payment to help Canadians with disabilities pay unexpected bills. The government will also establish a national workplace accessibility stream to help people with disabilities find and keep their jobs.