PEI

Young people, child care key as economy reopens, says Freeland

Prince Edward Islanders, and especially young people, will be able to count on the federal government’s support as the economy slowly reopens in the pandemic, says Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

‘We understand that it can go wrong’

The federal government will not allow today's youth to become a lost generation, says Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)

Prince Edward Islanders, and especially young people, will be able to count on the federal government's support as the economy slowly reopens in the pandemic, says Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland.

Freeland was speaking on CBC's Island Morning Tuesday about the federal government's $19-billion agreement with the provinces to safely restart the Canadian economy. P.E.I.'s share of that will be $50 million.

Freeland called the pandemic the biggest challenge for Canada since the Second World War. She said it will take a lot of care and prudence to reopen the economy while the pandemic is still underway.

"We really understand how important it is for us to get the restart of the economy right," said Freeland.

"We understand that it can go wrong. Just look around the world and you can see in so many places the virus is surging."

New program for youth coming

Freeland was asked about support for young people, particularly in connection with the collapse of a program to pay student volunteers that was to be administered by the WE Foundation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau faces conflict of interest allegations in connection with that $1 billion contract, and the program itself is on hold.

That support has been there from the start. It will continue to be there.— Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland

Freeland said another $9 billion in support for young people is still in place, and the $1 billion for the volunteer program is still on the table. A new program is being devised.

"There is so much evidence that shows that when you have an economic recession or depression the people who really, really suffer are young people who are just entering the economy," she said.

"You can have a lost generation, and that is not something that we are going to allow to happen."

Freeland said the WE Foundation contract is being thoroughly investigated, and she fully supports those investigations.

More will be needed for child care

The $50 million for P.E.I. includes $4 million for child care.

Child care is an important part of restarting the economy, Freeland says. (Katerina Georgieva/CBC)

"Supporting child care for returning workers is an important part of the safe restart agreement," said Freeland.

"There is $4 million for P.E.I. for child care. And I think, to be very, very candid, we are going to have to do a lot more."

Canada has done relatively well in the pandemic, and P.E.I. has done phenomenally well, Freeland said, but there is still a lot of work to be done. She said Canadians, and Islanders, will be able to continue to rely on the support of the federal government.

"The economy is not yet fully reopened, and it may not be for a while, so we absolutely need to have measures in place, programs in place, money for people who can't go back to work," she said.

"That support has been there from the start. It will continue to be there."

More from CBC P.E.I.

With files from Island Morning

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