Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced a new program on February 10, 2021, that will provide a one-time payment of $1200 to eligible critical workers in Alberta. The newly announced Critical Worker Benefit (CWB) will distribute up to $465 million to over 380,000 public and private sector workers in a joint federal-provincial program comprised of up to $118 million of provincial funding and $347 million from the federal government.
The CWB will be available to individuals in the health-care, social services, education, and private sectors who deliver critical services or support food and medical supply chains. Workers have to have worked at least 300 hours between October 12, 2020, and January 31, 2021, to qualify for this benefit.
Premier Kenney had this to say about the new benefit “These workers have placed themselves at the front line of this pandemic in order to serve their fellow citizens during a crisis. Alberta’s government is recognizing their good work. We trust this support will help these workers continue to protect lives and livelihoods as we keep fighting this pandemic together.”
Roughly 161,000 workers in the public health-care sector will be eligible to receive the CWB. Eligible occupations in this sector include orderlies and patient service associates, respiratory therapists and technologists, nurses (RNs, RPNs, LPNs), food services, housekeeping, maintenance workers, and unit clerks.
Around 45,000 workers in the social services sector will be eligible for this benefit. Eligible occupations in this sector include family and youth counsellors, community disability service workers and practitioners, child development workers, personal care aides, crisis intervention and shelter workers, home support workers, seniors lodge staff, cleaners, food service workers, and maintenance workers.
Approximately 36,000 workers in the education sector will also be eligible for the CWB. Eligible occupations in this sector include teacher assistants, bus drivers, custodians, cleaning staff, and administration support.
Public sector employees will not have to apply to receive the CWB; their employers will automatically receive the benefit payment through the provincial government to issue to their eligible employees.
Private sector employees must earn $25/hour or less to qualify for the CWB with the same minimum hour requiremtent. Eligible occupations in the private sector include critical retail workers in grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations; private health provider workers (e.g. dental assistants, massage therapists and medical administrative assistants); food manufacturing and processing workers; truck transportation workers, (e.g. truck drivers and delivery and courier services drivers); and warehouse and storage workers, (e.g. shippers and receivers).
Private-sector employers will need to apply for the CWB on behalf of their employees. Applications will be accepted from February 17, 2021, until March 19, 2021.
Please go to www.alberta.ca/critical-worker-benefit.aspx for more information about the Critical Worker Benefit, including eligibility and how to apply.
Dean LaBerge, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Grizzly Gazette