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Nova Scotia to get $289M from federal government for COVID-19 response

Premier Stephen McNeil addresses a news conference in Halifax on Sunday, March 15, 2020.
Premier Stephen McNeil addresses a news conference in Halifax on Sunday, March 15, 2020. The Canadian Press/Andrew Vaughan

Nova Scotia will receive $289 million from the federal government to help cover its COVID-19 response.

The provincial government announced on Wednesday that the funds will come from the provincial-federal-territorial safe restart agreement, a $19-billion fund announced in July.

“Nova Scotia is working closely with the federal government and other provinces and territories to respond to COVID-19, and ensure individuals and businesses have services and supports they need to help ease the challenges,” said Premier Stephen McNeil in a press release.

Read more: N.S. municipalities facing ‘dire financial straits’ due to COVID-19, study finds

Nova Scotia says the funds will be doled out as follows:

  • $77.3 million to increase testing and contact tracing, enhance provincial border entry control and monitoring and upgrade data management
  • $77.3 million to support Nova Scotia’s tracking and reporting system and to ensure the province’s supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) is stocked
  • $67.5 million to help municipalities address lower revenue from transit and taxes, as well as increased costs associated with COVID-19 protection measures.
  • $19.1 million for measures to control and prevent infections among vulnerable populations, including long-term care facilities
  • $17.4 million to help child care centres provide PPE and support new cleaning protocols and public health measures

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Most of the federal funding is allocated on a per capita basis or a base plus per capita base, the province said.

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All funding will be spent in the next six months, according to a provincial press release.

Click to play video 'Halifax mayoral candidates participate in virtual debate' Halifax mayoral candidates participate in virtual debate
Halifax mayoral candidates participate in virtual debate

The news of more funding has been welcomed by the Nova Scotia Federation of Municipalities (NSFM).

The organization said in a press release that its member bore the brunt of the pandemic when they lost almost all of the non-tax revenue streams when residents were forced to stay home.

A report prepared by the NSFM in June details how the province’s municipalities were forecasting a $66.5 million shortfall for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

The loss in revenue from municipal transport services is expected to amount to $23 million of that total.

Read more: Nova Scotia’s municipal elections to continue as planned in October, minister confirms

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But the funding from the safe restart agreement means that shortfall will now be covered.

“Today’s Safe Restart Agreement brings much-needed relief for municipalities who have been on the front lines of COVID-19,” says Yarmouth mayor and NSFM president Pam Mood.

“Without an ability to access additional sources of revenue, or run a deficit, this funding will ensure Nova Scotia municipalities are in a solid financial position going ahead in 2020-21.”