To defeat COVID-19 and get our economy back on track, we need a pan-Canadian approach.
We have to do everything we can to support Canadians who need help. We must take the necessary steps to ensure people’s safety.
That is why, today, I introduced Bill C-25. If enacted by Parliament, this legislation will provide $7.2 billion in critical support to provinces, territories, municipalities, and First Nations communities across Canada.
Of that sum, $4 billion will go to immediate health care needs. COVID-19 has placed extreme pressure on health care systems across the country. The pandemic is still here, and many parts of our country are facing the threat of a third wave right now. Canadians need help urgently. So this money, flowing through the Canada Health Transfer, will help provide the life-saving procedures put on hold due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will ensure that our health care system does not buckle under the continued strain of the pandemic, under the pressures of the third wave and new variants.
We know that to fully revitalize Canada’s economy, Canadians must be vaccinated. Vaccine campaigns are accelerating. And that is such a good thing. But we need to vaccinate even more Canadians, even more quickly. Thanks to plentiful and growing vaccine supply, that is something that Team Canada can get done, together.
So, this legislation proposes a one-time payment of $1 billion to provinces and territories to reinforce and roll out vaccination programs. This builds on the $19 billion previously allotted to support provinces and territories through the Safe Restart Agreement last summer.
Finally, we propose to invest $2.2 billion for municipalities and First Nations communities. This money will flow through the federal Gas Tax Fund, which we are today proposing to rename the Canada Community-Building Fund. Cities and towns are on the front line of the fight against COVID-19 and we will ensure that they can maintain and build the local infrastructure that Canadians depend on.
Today is a down payment on investments that we will more fully outline in the federal budget next month. Even as we plan for the mid- and long-term, we also need to address the immediate and urgent needs that Canadians face today. The battle against COVID-19 is not over and it is happening right now.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that collaboration has been, and will continue to be, the cornerstone of the pan-Canadian response to this pandemic.
By collaborating we will stimulate growth and job creation and lay the foundation for a strong recovery and a more resilient country.
I now turn it over to my colleague, Dominic LeBlanc.