FREDERICTON (GNB) – The Department of Social Development is investing $15.2 million to assist vulnerable populations impacted by the pandemic. The funding comes from the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement, which aims to re-open the economy and minimize the impact of potential future waves of COVID-19.

“Protecting vulnerable populations is one of the top priorities of the provincial government,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “We want New Brunswickers to benefit from the Safe Restart Agreement and get the help they need during this crisis.”

Through a multilateral process and discussions, the federal, provincial and territorial governments committed to shared objectives such as protecting vulnerable populations. The objective of agreement is to ensure that provinces and territories have the resources needed to reopen the economy while keeping Canadians safe, with a focus on immediate needs in the next six to eight months.

“Especially during the pandemic, the department is dedicated to protecting the people who most need our help,” said Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch. “We are pleased to invest more to ensure better protection and services.”

The department will invest the funding into three main sectors: long-term care facilities, child welfare and emergency shelters.

  • More than $10.5 million will be allocated to nursing homes and adult residential facilities.
  • A little over $3.7 million will go to Child Welfare and Protection programs. This funding targets group homes, foster homes, respite services and youth engagement services.
  • Emergency shelters will receive more than $1.2 million to help them cover costs associated with the pandemic.

The funding received under the Safe Restart Agreement will allow the department to expand various initiatives such as:

  • risk assessments to ensure readiness across vulnerable sectors/institutions;
  • infection prevention and control training;
  • creating workforce stability plans for care providers;
  • registries for personal support workers with attention to training, certification, and professional development;
  • creating isolation wings in nursing homes with the potential to move equipment to other long-term care facilities in the event of an outbreak;
  • implementing modified visitation measures;
  • assisting homeless shelters with increased costs due to physical distancing, and expansion of operations hours;
  • assisting with cases of mental health issues and problematic substance use challenges; and
  • assisting with finding homeless individuals with permanent, stable housing when possible.

“Thanks to this funding, the department will be in a better position to protect public health and be prepared for future waves of COVID-19,” said Fitch.