FREDERICTON -- Premier Blaine Higgs says the new COVID-19 funding agreement between Ottawa and the provinces will help New Brunswick better prepare for ongoing challenges created by the pandemic.

The $18.4 billion Safe Restart Agreement provides direct transfers of more than $200 million to New Brunswick in the current fiscal year.

Higgs said today in a news release the new deal will help the province's efforts to address concerns facing New Brunswickers in adjusting to the new normal.

The federal transfers are designed to help provinces with COVID-related expenses for things such as personal protective equipment, child care and senior facilities.

It will also give provinces access to an enhanced federal stockpile of personal protective equipment.

Higgs says the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the need for comprehensive action to secure the future of Canada's health-care systems.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 17, 2020.