Posted on Feb 18, 2021
UCP CRITICAL WORKER BENEFIT ROLLS OUT WITH HUGE FLAWS, EXCLUDES NON-PROFIT WORKERS
EDMONTON - At the end of the day Wednesday, the UCP finally opened up their application portal for the Critical Worker Benefit. This benefit will finally see Alberta distribute funds announced by the federal government more than 280 days ago. Now that the criteria and exclusions have been revealed, Albertans are left confused and frustrated by the program Premier Kenney and his UCP team have designed.
“I was severely disappointed to see what the UCP rolled out last night.” said Christina Gray, NDP Labour Critic. “Albertans have waited over nine months for this money and what they were presented with after five o’clock last night was a massive gut punch to our front line workers.”
“What we see here is a government that is completely out of touch from what Albertans went through at the beginning of the pandemic.This program is confusing and offers no explanation as to why many workers, who kept us moving when the pandemic hit, were excluded.”
The full benefit description and eligibility criteria was announced on the Alberta government website after 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 17. The eligibility criteria excludes frontline workers in the non-profit sector, healthcare workers with more than one employer, corrections officers, business owners, contractors, self-employed persons and sole proprietors, and those working in liquor stores and hardware stores.
The criteria listed on the website also indicates that employers, who are responsible for applying for the benefit, will receive 7.66 per cent of the total funds approved for eligible workers as to offset potential administrative and related costs. Of the total $465 million benefit, this would mean roughly $35.6 million of the total benefit would go to employers and not to frontline workers.
“Seventy five per cent of this money was given to Alberta by the federal government to top up the wages of our front line workers, who put their health at risk for the greater population. Jason Kenney missed the opportunity to use this money to its full potential by once again being out of touch with what Alberta workers need.” said Marie Renaud, NDP Critic for Community and Social Services.
“Non-profit workers were beyond essential throughout the pandemic and they have been completely cut out of the Critical Worker Benefit by the UCP. These groups provided care for others dealing with a public health crisis like we’ve never seen. They ran our food banks, they looked after our most vulnerable, they launched support programs and cared for Albertans. Excluding them from this benefit shows that Jason Kenney doesn’t feel their work was valued and they deserve that recognition.”
Early reaction to the opening of the Critical Worker Benefit saw a mix of confusion from Albertans who are being told to email or call a government catch-all line with concerns. Employers have until March 19 to apply for the benefit.