Ebene News – CA – Alberta NDP calls for major changes to essential worker benefits program

NDP calls on UCP government to make major revisions to its essential worker benefits package, one day before applications open

Frontline public health workers will automatically receive the one-time payment of $ 1,200, but many private sector workers are still awaiting details on whether or not they belong to the more than 380,000 eligible

Alberta’s benefit is part of a cost-shared program first announced by Ottawa in May, which will see the province pay $ 118 million and receive approximately $ 347 million in federal funding

Opposition NDP union critic Christina Gray told a press conference on Tuesday that the program could leave behind hundreds of thousands of workers it is supposed to support, especially by requiring people to have worked at least 300 hours between October 12 and Jan 31

“Albertans recognize that there are huge flaws in the way (Premier) Jason Kenney and the UCP have designed this program, not just because of the considerable delay in its deployment,” said Gray

Diane Carter, spokesperson for Labor Minister Jason Copping, said in a statement that a full list of eligible retail occupations would be available on the government website “shortly”

“The program focuses primarily on health care and low income workers who have played critical roles throughout the pandemic,” she said

Cate Noelck, 21, worked as a restaurant cashier throughout the pandemic, but had to cut her hours to attend college in the fall She said she didn’t understand why she was being excluded of the program, as she put her health and that of her family at risk

“The climax of the pandemic was when my workplace turned upside down, and we all had to adapt so quickly, and it was scary. But being an essential worker, it was part of my job. work to be exposed to people on the front lines, ”Noelck told the NPD conference

Gray said lowering the hours worked threshold, extending the deadline to include the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and allowing employees to apply directly would help prioritize vulnerable workers

As questions persist from workers who are unskilled or unskilled, the government must provide a clear list of those who are eligible, explain why some workers are excluded and consult with labor organizations, Gray said

Although Gray stopped asking for the money to be paid in the form of an hourly wage top-up, as other provinces have done, she said many shortcomings in the program could have been identified if the government had consulted the trade unions

“This job – talking to workers – should have happened nine months ago. The best time to do it would have been when the federal government announced the program”

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Alberta, Employee Benefits, Jason Kenney

Ebene News – CA – Alberta NDP calls for major changes to essential worker benefits program

Source: https://edmontonjournal.com/news/politics/alberta-ndp-calls-for-major-changes-to-critical-worker-benefit-program