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Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe talks to reporters after the province released its budget at Saskatchewan's Legislative Building in Regina, Monday, June 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Mark Taylor.

Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press

Saskatchewan’s premier says he and other provincial leaders have asked Ottawa for more flexibility on $14-billion in transfer funds to help people returning to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Scott Moe says most initiatives in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s “safe-restart agreement” are federal ones, and the provinces have little or no input on the parameters.

Mr. Moe says he wants to be able to use some of that money to support industries hit hard by the pandemic, such as the energy sector.

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Mr. Trudeau has said the offer includes money for personal protective equipment, up to 10 days of paid sick leave for workers without benefits, and support for transit and community programs in municipalities.

Mr. Moe says he believes a lot of the money will go toward sick leave, and called it a “trading pawn” for the Liberals because of its minority government.

Mr. Trudeau did not specify how the funds would be divided, but Mr. Moe says Saskatchewan stands to receive about $450-million.

“We’re in different situations across this nation with how it’s impacted our economy,” the premier told a news conference Tuesday.

“Virtually all of the provinces, I won’t say all of them … have asked for additional flexibility when it comes to the transfer of those funds.”

Mr. Trudeau has said the $14-billion would be rolled out over six to eight months, and that the provinces need to show how they plan to spend the money before they get any.

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