The province has temporarily stopped taking applications for emergency one-time funding for people who are self-isolating and are unable to work.
The online application went live Wednesday on the province's website, but high demand created technical issues, Premier Jason Kenney said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
"By two-o-clock this afternoon, several thousand people had already applied and the website effectively crashed because of the surge in demand, but I understand Service Alberta will have it up and running again with expanded capacity," he said.
Tricia Velthuizen, spokesperson for the minister of Service Alberta, said Wednesday afternoon that the server is currently being reset, and should be up again soon.
"We fully understand how frustrating technical issues can be. Service Alberta is seeking to accommodate high demand as best as possible under difficult, exceptional circumstances," she said.
She added that anyone experiencing additional technical issues can contact 1‐844‐643‐2789.
Eligible recipients of the funding will receive a one-time payment of $1,146 through an Interac e-Transfer. If approved, the payment will be processed within 24 to 48 hours.
Once eligibility has been confirmed, Albertans will be asked to create a digital ID, which is required to complete the application. As part of the verification process, applicants' identities will be verified with information from their drivers' licence or ID card.
The temporary program is meant to bridge the gap until emergency federal funding comes available.
The roughly $50 million in funding is available to working adults who meet the province's published criteria for self-isolation. This includes people who are the sole caregivers to dependents who must self-isolate, and those who have otherwise been directed to self-isolate by health authorities.
To be eligible, recipients must also not have another source of pay or compensation while isolated.
People are not eligible for the isolation support program if they:
- were not working prior to beginning self-isolation;
- are able to work from home;
- are staying home to care for a dependent for a reason other than self-isolation;
- haven't experienced significant income loss;
- are receiving other forms of income support or employer benefits; or
- do not reside in Alberta.
During his Wednesday new conference, Kenney said the one-time funding is not meant to be a long-term income replacement, and is simply an interim measure for people who are in isolation and have no other income until the federal funding program comes available.
But Opposition labour critic Christina Gray said the province should open up eligibility to make the funding available to more Albertans, and said many there are many people who do meet the requirements who are having trouble accessing the program.
"At this time it appears that there are many Albertans ... having trouble verifying their MyAlberta ID. These are Albertans that qualify, that for one reason or another are not being able to complete the application, and can't get through the support lines available," Gray said.
On March 18, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an $82-billion aid package to help Canadians and businesses cope with the global COVID-19 pandemic, including income supports, wage subsidies and tax deferrals.
The package includes $27 billion in direct supports and another $55 billion to help business liquidity through tax deferrals.
Emergency benefits, which will be made available in April, will go to Canadians who do not quality for Employment Insurance.