Posted on May 4, 2021


EDMONTON – In the Public Accounts Committee today, the Deputy Minister of Labour and Immigration revealed that Alberta Labour was never instructed to complete policy work to deliver on Jason Kenney’s explicit March 2020 promise to provide Albertans paid sick leave.

“The Premier bare-facedly lied to Albertans. But more importantly, he failed to provide a crucial public health measure during a deadly pandemic,” said NDP Critic for Labour Christina Gray. “Albertans desperately need paid sick leave today.”

At the beginning of the pandemic, Kenney promised 14 days of paid job-protected leave. In the announcement, Jason Kenney said “We are taking COVID-19 extremely seriously and acting quickly to improve employment rules. That is why we are offering paid sick leave to help contain the spread of the virus. No one should have to choose between work and taking care of their health.”

The Premier then posted the announcement on Twitter on his own account and through the Government of Alberta’s account with emphasis on the word “paid.”

When asked about this leave by the Official Opposition, the Deputy Minister could not recall doing any of the costing work, consulting with employers about the implications of paid sick leave on their businesses, or consulting with Dr. Deena Hinshaw or Alberta Health about the proven benefits of helping sick people stay home. Alberta Labour was never directed to do any of the policy work to provide paid sick leave.

“We are seeing the highest numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and ICU admissions of any time during the pandemic. We have the highest per-capita infection rate of any Canadian province or US state. And part of the reason we’re in this situation is the Kenney government is still forcing people to go to work sick,” Gray said.

Paid sick leave has been proven to reduce daily case rates by upwards of 50 per cent in other jurisdictions.

Jason Kenney is scheduled to introduce new public health measures later today.

“Why is Jason Kenney still failing to provide a highly effective public health measure that doesn’t involve any restrictions? Paid sick leave simply supports Albertans who want to do the right thing,” said Gray. “I’m calling on Jason Kenney to make sure that 10 work days of paid sick leave is part of Alberta’s response to the pandemic.”