CALGARY — The Critical Worker Benefit Program announced Wednesday still has a few details to be resolved.
Health care aides were announced as one of the groups eligible for the program, but a spokesperson for Alberta’s minister of labour and immigration says the province is still fighting for their inclusion.
The federal government says in a statement:
“It is up to each province and territory to determine which workers are eligible to receive a top-up and how much they receive.”
Ottawa is putting up $347 million for the program which will pay 380,000 Albertans a one time benefit of $1,200.
The money is being billed as a sort of retroactive danger pay for frontline workers making less than $25 an hour in the private sector. Public sector workers can make more than that and still be eligible, but the benefit is primarily intended to assist lower-wage earners.
Jason Schilling, president of the Alberta Teachers Association says he’s pleased to see librarians, bus drivers and educational aides covered, but added that substitute teachers, who are ineligible for the benefit, have faced the same dangers and hardships over the past year.
“I believe substitute teachers should have been part of that conversation,” Schilling says.
The Alberta government has faced recent criticism for allowing $675 million in federal pandemic relief money to sit unspent.
Alberta’s share of the Critical Worker Benefit is $118 million.