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Federal, provincial partnership makes $120M available for Manitoba front-line workers: Pallister

Manitoba's premier will give an update on the province's response to COVID-19 Wednesday morning.

Front-line workers fighting the coronavirus pandemic in Manitoba will see additional compensation through a $120-million partnership announced Wednesday between the provincial and federal governments.

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said essential workers in both the private and public sectors will be eligible for a “one-time risk payment” directly from the province through the partnership.

“Thousands of Manitoba workers are on the front line every day,” said Pallister at a Wednesday morning press conference from Winnipeg.

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“These workers have been making personal and professional sacrifices to protect vulnerable Manitobans and to keep us all safe.

“They’re serving you, they’re protecting you, they’re protecting others and we will be forever grateful to them.”

The cost-shared program was promised by Ottawa last week to supplement income for essential workers, such as staff in long-term care homes, who remain on the job.

Pallister said finance officials from the province will work with both public-sector union leaders and private critical service providers to make sure the money flows through an online application system.

READ MORE: Manitoba reports no new cases of COVID-19 Wednesday

About three-quarters of the compensation will be federal funds.

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Details such as who will qualify for the cash and how much they will get will be worked out with public-sector union leaders and private-sector companies that provide critical services, Pallister added.

Pallister estimates that, on average, workers will get a one-time payment of about $1,000 after applying online.

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Pallister also revealed that his political staff are taking temporary pay cuts or unpaid days off to help control costs.

He says his senior advisory staff are taking reduced pay and negotiations with other staff are ongoing with respect to work-sharing or other unpaid time off.

Advisory board formed

At his Wednesday press conference, Pallister also announced the formation of a new advisory board to help chart out the province’s economic recovery and growth from COVID-19.

The 18-member Premier’s Economic Opportunities Advisory Board will include members from Manitoba’s transportation, real estate, agriculture, education and manufacturing sectors, among others.

READ MORE: Coronavirus — Manitoba not allowing ‘family bubbles,’ not an easy decision: epidemiologist

“This board of leaders … will draw on its expertise to provide advice to the government on leading Manitoba’s renewed growth following the public health crisis,” Pallister said in a release.

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“Its members will work as a team to find opportunities for economic recovery and growth, based on the strengths of Manitobans and the province’s communities and industries so Manitoba emerges stronger and more resilient than ever before.”

Pallister said the board will advise the government on ways to harness private-sector capital and investment over the next 18 months to create jobs and economic growth across the province.

The board, chaired by Richardson International president and CEO Curt Vossen, will report to the premier, the Economic Development Office and the Office of the Clerk of the Executive Council and Cabinet Secretary, according to a release from the province.

–With files from the Canadian Press

Manitoba Premier defends cuts to public service, crown corporations during COVID-19
Manitoba Premier defends cuts to public service, crown corporations during COVID-19

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.