Posted on Apr 6, 2020


EDMONTON -- The UCP government has ended its Emergency Isolation Support program, leaving many Albertans without direct financial support from their provincial government during the COVID-19 pandemic. 


On Monday, visitors to the Emergency Isolation Support website found only a message that the program is now closed, redirecting would-be applicants to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program administered by the federal government. The federal program is accepting applicants based on birth month and is not yet open to everyone.


It is unclear how many people were unable to apply or were denied support. The Emergency Isolation Support website claims it has distributed financial support to 79,596 Albertans, but some estimates predict the pandemic could cause the unemployment rate to jump anywhere from 12 to 15 per cent in Alberta, resulting in almost 200,000 jobs lost.1 A recent survey conducted by Restaurants Canada found that 95,000 jobs have already been lost in the food service industry in March alone.2 


“Premier Kenney and his UCP government have just abandoned thousands of Albertans in desperate need of immediate financial support,” said NDP Labour and Immigration Critic Christina Gray. 


“The UCP promised this would be a bridge to the federal program, but for many Albertans, it’s a bridge to nowhere.”


The UCP claimed the provincial benefit would serve as a bridge to the federal program and nobody would fall through cracks while waiting for federal support. However, the program was plagued with problems with many people discovering the website was repeatedly down or they were inexplicably denied. At times there were over 40,000 Albertans waiting in the online queue to apply for the Emergency Isolation Support program. 


“The UCP brag about how many people have received the benefit, but I’m hearing from many Albertans in crisis now who were denied support or weren’t able to apply,” said Gray.


“They promised nobody would fall through the cracks, but we can see that was a lie. They failed to support people at a time when they need help the most. They’ve failed Albertans.”


Gray also noted that the federal program, on its own, will not be enough for many Alberta families to make ends meet. While the Official Opposition continues to assess initiatives to provide more financial support to Albertans, some measures already suggested, such as increasing the Alberta Child Benefit by $300 per child, have been ignored.