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Minister of Infrastructure and Communities Catherine McKenna

Ottawa announces $3B in funding for pandemic-related infrastructure projects

Wednesday, August 05, 2020 @ 3:23 PM | By Ian Burns

The federal government is adjusting a federal infrastructure program to directly respond to the immediate pressures and concerns as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Catherine McKenna, the federal minister of Infrastructure and Communities, announced the new COVID-19 resilience funding stream of the $33-billion Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program so provinces can use federal funding to act quickly on a wider range of more pandemic-resilient infrastructure projects, such as retrofitting schools, upgrading hospitals and long-term care homes to deal with social distancing requirements and building new parks.

Catherine McKenna, Infrastructure and Communities Minister

“Our government recognizes that with the health and economic challenges presented by COVID-19, we need to support Canadians to protect their health, improve their quality of life, and create jobs,” she said at an Aug. 5 press conference. “That’s why we've changed our infrastructure program to make it easier to invest in making schools and long-term care facilities safe for children and aging parents and to build projects that make it easier for people to get out and exercise and appreciate nature.”

Under the new funding stream, worth up to $3.3 billion, projects will be eligible for a significantly larger federal cost share — up to 80 per cent for provinces, municipalities and not-for-profit organizations in provinces, and raising it to 100 per cent for remote, northern and territorial projects designated under the new stream. A simplified funding application process will ensure that projects can get underway as soon as possible, and accelerated approvals will ensure that provinces and territories can address pressing needs in a timely manner.

The changes will help get more projects underway faster, and support longer-term goals of sustainable, economically healthy, low-carbon, and inclusive communities, said McKenna. For projects that can start in the near term, eligibility criteria in the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program’s other existing streams have also been expanded — for example, mobile phone and cellular projects are now eligible under the Rural and Northern Infrastructure stream, and intercity transit projects are now eligible.

Ottawa has also entered into two agreements with pharmaceutical companies Pfizer and Moderna to secure millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates. A COVID-19 vaccine task force has also been set up to advise the government on how best to support vaccine research in Canada and ensure Canadian leadership in vaccine development and biomanufacturing.

“Given intense global competition, we are taking an aggressive approach to secure access to the most promising candidates so that we will be ready to vaccinate all Canadians as quickly as possible,” said Minister of Public Services and Procurement Anita Anand. “We are extremely pleased to establish these agreements with Pfizer and Moderna. Canadians can rest assured that the government will continue to do everything possible to keep them healthy and safe.”

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