Premier Jason Kenney issued the following statement welcoming the Safe Restart Agreement:
“I am pleased to announce that, after several weeks of negotiations, the provinces have reached an agreement with the federal government on a Safe Restart Agreement. This agreement will help our economy take the next steps to recover from the impacts of COVID-19 as we work to keep Albertans and all Canadians safe and healthy.
“The total value of the agreement, which covers all 13 provinces and territories and addresses several areas of the economy and public health needs for the next six to eight months, is $19 billion. This includes funding for testing, PPE for front-line workers, child care, mental health, and protecting the most vulnerable Canadians, including our seniors. The Government of Canada’s decision to recognize and credit the work already done by the provinces in the fight against the virus will be particularly helpful to Alberta, which has led the country on PPE procurement and testing.
“The agreement also includes new funding for sick leave pay and funding to help offset some of the lost operating revenue facing municipalities, including for public transit. We look forward to working with the municipalities on announcing the details of this new funding in the days ahead.
“Alberta’s government has acted in unprecedented ways to protect people through the worst of the COVID-19 economic and public health crises. To date, we have provided some $14 billion in support – more than any other province, on a relative basis – including:
- More than half a billion dollars for our health-care system.
- Support for long-term care homes, and those who work in them.
- Emergency isolation payments, so sick workers could stay at home.
- Up to $200 million in small business relaunch grants for those who had to close.
- Support for homeless shelters, women’s shelters and food banks.
- More than $50 million in COVID-related mental health support for those struggling to cope.
- 40 million free masks to help control the spread.
- Funding to help day care operators reopen.
- Deferrals on utility bills, education property taxes, student loans and government fees.
- Access to credit for struggling employers.
- Policies to protect both renters and commercial tenants.
“Late last month we launched Alberta’s Recovery Plan: a bold, ambitious long-term strategy to build, to diversify our economy, and to create tens of thousands of jobs right now. The Safe Restart Agreement announced today will complement and accelerate Alberta on that path to recovery. I would like to thank the federal government for working with the provinces, listening to our concerns, and responding to them. I would especially like to thank my fellow premiers, whose solidarity, mutual understanding, and dedication to the good of our country resulted in a deal that is more generous, fair, and flexible than where we started.
“Albertans have contributed more than $600 billion to the rest of the federation over the past 60 years, and we continue to contribute $20 billion each year even as our workers and our economy are severely strained, so we appreciate that this relief represents a small portion of our net tax contribution to the federation coming back to our province through this package.”