Posted on Jan 8, 2021


EDMONTON - The latest job figures released by Statistics Canada show that the UCP government’s refusal to take action during the beginning of the second wave of COVID-19 has left Alberta behind every other province in terms of economic recovery. Alberta has among Canada’s highest unemployment rates, second only to Newfoundland and Labrador.

Meanwhile, Jason Kenney and the UCP continue to leave $300 million dollars of federal money on the table, further hamstringing Alberta’s economy and withholding wage top-ups for essential workers. 

“Jason Kenney and the UCP don’t seem to understand that by leaving $300 million on the table, they’re rejecting a much needed injection into our local economy,” said NDP Labour Critic Chrisina Gray. “These workers have been going all out for months now and they deserve the same support that has been given to other essential workers across Canada.”

In December, 12,000 Albertans lost jobs while another 17,000 gave up looking for work. Since November, 23,000 jobs have been lost in the province and 27,000 have left the labour force. The survey was conducted from December 6 to 12, before current public health restrictions were put in place.

“For months, the UCP refused to act to stop the spread of COVID-19. They allowed the virus to spread out of control while our hospitals and ICUs filled up and they continued to present a false choice between protecting public health and protecting our economy. As a result, they failed at both,” said Gray. 

The UCP’s failure to act sooner meant the lockdown measures happened over the holiday shopping season - the busiest time of year for businesses. It also meant the measures had to be stricter and will last longer than they would have been if action was taken earlier. This will only have negative consequences for jobs and our economy.

“If we are going to get through this second wave and protect jobs, we need immediate financial support for workers and small businesses,” said Gray. “Unfortunately, the UCP have done next to nothing for both.”

According to media reports, the UCP requested less than 10 per cent of the maximum amount under the federal wage top-up program for frontline workers. They only requested $30 million out of possible $347 million.