Posted on Feb 17, 2021

NDP Labour Critic Christina Gray issued the following statement in response to the launch of the Critical Workers Benefit:

“After over 250 days of inaction, Jason Kenney and the UCP have unveiled their disappointing Critical Workers Benefit. This federal money was meant to be a sign of good grace for the hundreds of thousands of frontline workers who risked their lives when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Instead, what we have is a confusing maze with criteria that make little sense and that will only serve to frustrate and anger the heroes of this pandemic. 

“I’m appalled to see that non-profit workers do not qualify — these are people who risked their lives to provide food and care for ailing Albertans, and who gave back to their community, during a public health emergency unlike any we’ve ever seen. 

“I also cannot see how this government justifies turning over $35.6 million (7.66 per cent) to employers to deal with administrative costs. This is money for workers, period. 

“Jason Kenney and the UCP also did not take any of our recommendations into account in launching this program. After receiving thousands of emails from concerned Albertans, we recommended that the UCP lower the 300-hour qualifying threshold, one of the highest in the country, extend the qualification period to include the first wave of the pandemic, remove a provision requiring employers to apply for the program, consult with worker representatives to ensure all critical workers can access the program, and to provide a transparent rationale for worker groups that are not eligible.

“We saw none of this today, only more disrespect for workers from this UCP Government.”