Posted on Dec 14, 2020


EDMONTON - Alberta’s NDP is proposing a program to help Albertans facing sudden unemployment over the holidays and to provide a shot of adrenaline to the provincial economy in the wake of new closure measures that came into effect over the weekend. 

The Holiday Emergency Lifeline Payment (HELP) program would give $1,000 to each worker who was laid off or furloughed during the second closure, which took effect Sunday. The money would provide bridge funding to Albertans while they wait for Employment Insurance or the Canada Recovery Benefit, which can take up to 14 days to receive.

“Many Alberta workers we’re hearing from can’t wait two weeks for support during the holiday season,” said NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray. “With how unsteady employment has been throughout 2020 due to the pandemic, we know Alberta workers and their families are struggling. Put it simply, they could really use HELP.”

Effective Sunday, bars and restaurants were forced to close for in-person service, with food pickup and delivery allowed to continue. Fitness centres and personal service businesses, such as hair and cosmetic salons, were also closed. 

According to estimates from the Official Opposition, and based on similar measures in Quebec, the new public health measures are expected to see 37,700 jobs lost immediately - the majority coming from the food-service and hospitality industry. Based on these figures, the program is estimated to cost $37.7 million.  

Even before the new measures were introduced, Alberta was facing an 11.1 per cent unemployment rate - second highest in the country. In addition, Alberta remains last in the country for regaining employment to pre-pandemic levels after 11,000 jobs were lost last month. 

“The premier delayed taking action and now he’s shut down these businesses at the busiest time of year,” said NDP Critic for Economic Development and Innovation Deron Bilous. “This program will help stimulate the economy and prevent further job losses. This will help reduce the economic impact of the lock down and set us up for recovery when the economy reopens.”

Taylor Nachtigal, a 3rd year university student who works as an esthetician to pay for her school. 

“December is one of the busiest times in the year for esthetic services due to the holiday season,” said Nachtigal. “I will be missing tips and banked hours I receive in this time frame that provide me with financial padding so I can continue to pay for rent, insurance, groceries, tuition, and other needs throughout the year.”  

Lindsay Richardson lost two jobs in the closure order. She works at both Tutti Frutti and Bob's Place Pub in Calgary.

“We did nothing wrong,” said Richardson. “We worked hard and did everything we could to keep customers and ourselves safe to limit the spread, but now we are laid off again through no fault of our own. We need help.”

The British Columbia government recently announced the BC Recovery Benefit program that will give up to $1,000 to families. The benefit is income tested and BC residents are eligible regardless of employment status.