WINNIPEG -- The Manitoba government is increasing its investment in the Safe at Home program, in order to help Manitobans stay active and entertained while adhering to the public health orders.

Sport, Culture and Heritage Minister Cathy Cox made the announcement at a news conference on Monday, saying that the Safe at Home grant has been expanded to $5 million in support of more than 300 projects.

“The Safe at Home Manitoba grant has been a tremendous success since its December launch,” Cox said.

“And our Safe at Home Manitoba projects have helped to keep Manitobans active and engaged through the height of our necessary public health restrictions.”

The province initially invested $3 million into the grant and is now adding another $2 million for Manitoba organizations, municipalities, businesses and artists to provide free, inclusive programming. These programs include live streams of performing arts, at-home fitness, cooking classes, and resources for seniors, Indigenous youth, newcomers and vulnerable Manitobans.

Cox also announced the province is launching the second phase of its Safe at Home advertising campaign, which is aimed at encouraging Manitobans to continue to stop the spread of COVID-19 by following public health orders and staying at home.

“Our government’s number-one priority in the face of this pandemic has been to protect Manitobans,” Cox said.

“We hope that these ads will encourage Manitobans to do the right thing, to protect themselves, their loved ones and their community.”

The province invested more than $440,000 into this campaign, which began in November and will continue until the end of March. The Safe at Home campaign includes digital and social ads, as well as radio and television commercials.

Dr. Brent Roussin, Manitoba’s chief provincial public health officer, joined the minister at the news conference, saying that the past few months have been tough on Manitobans.

“Winter is typically quite difficult, but this pandemic, and the public health restrictions have only added to the challenge of these long, cold winter days with limited sunshine,” he said.

“The Safe at Home program continues to offer that ray of hope as it connects and engages Manitobans from across the province.”

Roussin said keeping the mind and body active is important for both mental and physical health.

“Our case numbers are headed in a good direction, but to keep them there we need to continue to stay home and stay safe,” he said.

“Doing so will allow us to reopen, reduce the strain on our health-care system and prevent these variants of concern, which are still threatening to us."

 The new ads can be viewed online.