Posted on Mar 16, 2020


EDMONTON – After promising Albertans the government would provide paid sick days to Albertans impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Premier Jason Kenney and the UCP government backtracked Monday, shirking all responsibility to the federal government.

“The Premier promised Albertans that he would protect them and provide income support immediately. Now he’s decided to shrug his shoulders and wait for Ottawa,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “We’ve seen the Premier break promises before but perhaps never one this important. Some of these Albertans are living paycheque to paycheque and they deserve leadership.”

In a news conference on March 13, Kenney said the government was “taking COVID-19 extremely seriously and acting quickly to improve employment rules” and “that is why we are offering paid sick leave to help contain the spread of the virus.” This was confirmed in a March 13 news release.

The announcement generated headlines in mainstream media across Alberta, including in local news outlets serving communities like Red Deer and St. Albert. Details on how the paid leave would be taken was highly anticipated, especially after the March 15 announcement that schools would be closed, forcing thousands of working parents to change their plans and stay home to care for their kids.

But on Monday, Kenney completely backtracked on his promise, confirming the Government of Alberta would not provide options for paid leave or other income supports. Kenney said “we believe this is a national responsibility” and Albertans should wait for Ottawa to make changes to employment insurance.