B.C. Premier John Horgan takes questions at the B.C. legislature, February 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. Premier John Horgan takes questions at the B.C. legislature, February 2020. (B.C. government)

B.C. gets $2 billion in latest COVID-19 federal aid package

Sick leave, transit backed by Ottawa, John Horgan says

The B.C. government getting close to $2 billion in the latest federal aid package for provinces, including help for paid sick leave in the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier John Horgan says.

After a lengthy conference call with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and other premiers July 16, Horgan congratulated Trudeau for putting $1.1 billion toward paid leave across the country “to make sure that people don’t go to work sick.”

Horgan, Yukon Premier Sandy Silver and Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister spearheaded the effort to extend sick pay to people who don’t have it from their employers. Details on whether the program will be delivered via the Employment Insurance or another method are still to be worked out, but it will be “nationally funded and nationally coordinated,” Horgan said.

He credited provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry for making infection control in workplaces a central part of the province’s relaxing of pandemic controls.

“Dr. Henry made it pretty clear to me early on in the pandemic that the biggest challenge we had in the restart was making sure that people didn’t go to work when they had potential symptoms that could lead to transmission to other workers or customers in the economy,” Horgan said.

The latest federal aid includes 50-50 shared support with B.C. on keeping transit operating and helping municipalities with their costs.

“There’s an increase in funding for mental health issues,” Horgan said. “There’s an increase in funding for child care. There’s an increase in funding for vulnerable populations, those with disabilities, and more to come in that regard.”

RELATED: Ottawa, provinces agree on $19M COVID-19 aid package

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