The Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) is welcoming the announcement of $19 billion in federal support for provinces and municipalities to weather the economic impacts of COVID-19.

The money is to be spent on seven priority areas, including testing and contract tracing, child care, health care, sourcing PPE, support for vulnerable Canadians, paid sick leave, and helping municipalities with the cost of transit and other services.

CUPE applauds the federal government for acknowledging that the needs of provinces and local governments ran deeper than its original promise of $14 billion and upping that pledge significantly. We are especially pleased to see money being included to boost child care and guarantee ten days of paid sick leave for all workers.

CUPE is calling on the provinces to come to the table quickly with their share of the funding, so that this critical federal funding can flow to our communities as quickly as possible.

However, CUPE is also cautioning the government that it won’t be long before the funds pledged need to be replenished. In particular, the $2 billion earmarked for municipalities in this package falls far short of the $10 billion that had been requested by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities in the spring. There’s no question this funding will help, but it will still force many local governments to cut jobs and curb or cancel services.

For months, CUPE has been urging the federal government to open up the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy to public sector employers to save jobs and services and take some financial pressure off municipalities. We are disappointed that the federal government continues to resist this option.

CUPE will also be vigilant to ensure this federal money is used to shore up the services they are intended for, like health care and services provided by municipalities, and not to weaken those services through giveaways to the private sector.