Feds unveil new COVID-19 stream for provincial infrastructure program

Reported by: The Canadian Press

OTTAWA — Infrastructure Minister Catherine McKenna says the government is setting up a new COVID-19 funding stream out of Ottawa’s existing infrastructure programs.

It will set aside up to 10 per cent of the $33.5 billion Investing in Canada program — delivered through agreements with provinces and territories — and allow for greater flexibility, faster approvals, and a bigger federal share of the cost.

Ottawa will now pick up 80 per cent of the cost of projects, which will include things like retrofitting and upgrading municipal or provincial buildings, including to allow for things like physical distancing or better hygiene practices to prevent the spread of the virus.

Health facilities, schools, and recreational projects such as parks, trails, bike lanes, or multi-use paths are also on the eligibility list, and projects must be completed before the end of the 2021 construction season.

McKenna says she has spent much of the last two months working with provinces and territories to assess the best ways to use existing programs to respond to some COVID-19 needs.

She says this is not a new stimulus program but an attempt to be smarter and more efficient with existing programs.

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