Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and provincial and territorial leaders will speak tonight about ways to better protect those in long-term care facilities, which have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada.

Topping the agenda for the weekly first ministers’ conference call is Trudeau’s promise of federal support to top up the wages of personal support workers and other front-line health workers in long-term care homes.

The objective is to encourage more of those essential workers to stay on in those higher-risk jobs, and compensate them for orders in some provinces banning them from working in multiple facilities.

Roughly half of Canada’s more than 1,000 deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in long-term care facilities.

Trudeau promised Wednesday that the federal government would provide financial assistance to essential workers who earn less than $2,500 a month.

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4:33The mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

The mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

But the federal government wants to co-ordinate its support with measures taken by provincial governments.