Posted on Mar 10, 2020

UCP must pass bill to protect workers from coronavirus: NDP

Jason Kenney and the UCP must introduce new protections for Alberta workers who are forced to self-isolate and miss work due to coronavirus, says the Alberta NDP Opposition.

Albertans are being directed to self-isolate for 14 days if they suspect they have contracted coronavirus, and to stay home when feeling ill. However, stronger job-protection legislation and compensation supports could better ensure hardworking Albertans do not feel compelled to go to work while sick.

“Albertans are hardworking and take the fewest number of sick days in Canada. By ensuring Albertans feel their jobs are protected and can take time off to recover, the government can help further prevent the spread of coronavirus and safeguard our economy,” - Christina Gray, Alberta NDP Critic for Labour.

In addition, the UCP must explore options to assist Albertans who may not be able to afford time away from work even with job-protection. This could include paid sick days, supplemental measures through the Employment Insurance program, and emergency, one-time income supplements to households.

“We know the financial burden of not working will be extremely difficult for many Albertans, so we are also asking the UCP to consider a range of measures to help ensure people who are ill and suspected of having coronavirus are not financially pressured to return to work and endanger the health of others,” said Christina Gray, Alberta NDP Critic for Labour.

The Alberta NDP Opposition is also asking the UCP to prohibit employers from requiring a doctor's note from employees absent due to illness. Both the Government of Canada and the American Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend that employers do not require sick notes at this time.

Alberta’s NDP Official Opposition would work with the UCP to rapidly pass legislation that:

  • Bans employers from requiring doctors notes (i.e. proof of illness).
  • Creates a new job-protected leave for those who contract COVID-19 or are asked to self-isolate.
  • Provides financial support for affected Albertans.

This legislation would be a temporary measure while self-isolation continues to be one of the primary strategies for preventing the spread of coronavirus, and would no longer be in force and effect once the Chief Medical Officer of Alberta has declared the outbreak to be over in Alberta.