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Alberta outlines plans to spend $1.3B under Safe Restart Agreement

Alberta plans to spend $1.3 billion allocated by the federal government to increase COVID-19 testing, enhance health-care capacity, funnel money to municipal transit systems and buy more personal protective equipment.

Almost $350M will go toward increased testing, contact tracing, data management

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney, right, has sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau outlining how the province plans to spend money allocated under the Safe Restart Agreement. (Canadian Press photos)

Alberta plans to spend $1.3 billion allocated by the federal government to increase COVID-19 testing, enhance health-care capacity, funnel money to municipal transit systems and buy more personal protective equipment.

Plans for the spending under the Safe Restart Agreement were outlined in a letter sent to the prime minister by Alberta Premier Jason Kenney.

Under the agreement reached earlier this summer, the federal government announced it will provide more than $19 billion to help provinces and territories safely restart the economy.

In his letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Kenney lists key six priorities and outlines how much money will be spent on each.

The province will spend $349.9 million to increase testing, contact tracing, and data management.

Plans for that money include:

  • Increase testing capacity from current levels of 12,000 per day to a peak of 22,000 tests per day, though actual numbers will depend on demand;
  • Expansion of MyHealth Records to include all test results;
  • Reimburse some COVID-related spending undertaken by Alberta Precision Labs during the first eight months of this year.

The province plans to spend $139 million to ramp up health-care capacity, Kenney said.

Plans for that money include:

  • Funding additional infection prevention and control in health-care settings.
  • Reducing the backlog of non-COVID procedures.
  • Paying to backfill or hire new health-care staff.
  • Increasing online, phone and in-person mental health and addiction recovery support.

The province will spend $303.2 million on municipalities and transit.

Alberta's plans for that money, which will mainly be allocated on a per-capita basis, include:

  • Funding for the 15 municipal transit systems in Alberta to pay for operating costs incurred due to COVID-19, including the purchase of personal protective equipment, costs of additional cleaning, and replacement of revenues lost due to declines in ridership.
  • Providing money to municipalities to cover operating losses incurred as a result of COVID-19 and to replace lost revenues such as parking fees, recreation facility entrance fees and building permit fees.

A portion of the funding will be set aside for the tourism centres of Banff, Jasper, and Canmore.

The province will spend $71.8 million on child care. 

That money will go to:

  • Paying for child-care spaces and increasing availability of spaces for families of children with disabilities or at risk.
  • Providing a time-limited grant to cover some fixed costs for preschool, day care, family day homes, and out-of-school programs.
  • Providing a one-time grant to early childhood educators.

Alberta will spend $86.3 million to help vulnerable populations.

Plans for that money include:

  • Providing support for continuing care and lodge operators, including enhanced staffing, extra cleaning supplies, lost accommodation revenue.
  • Providing support to people who use shelters or temporary housing, including women's shelters.
  • Providing support to address and prevent family violence and sexual violence.
  • Funding to charities and civil societies.

The province will also spend almost $350 million on personal protective equipment.

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