The Critical Worker Benefit application portal for private sector employees who served in critical roles throughout the pandemic is now open.
The joint federal-provincial program will see $465 million go to about 380,000 workers “in the public health-care, social services, education sectors and those in the private sector who deliver critical basic services, or support food and medical supply chains” as a one-time payment of $1,200.
Private sector employers have until Friday, March 19 to apply for the benefit on behalf of their employees while the Government of Alberta is working directly with employers of health-care, social services, and education sectors to distribute the benefit.
“The program is designed to be delivered through employers to ensure a streamlined application process to get the benefit to Alberta’s critical workers as quickly as possible,” said Diane Carter, spokeswoman for Labour and Immigration in an emailed statement on Tuesday.
A full list of eligible applications is available on the province’s website at alberta.ca/criticalworkerbenefit.
However, those ineligible include food take-out delivery workers, post office workers, bicycle messengers, business owners, contractors, self-employed persons and sole proprietors, municipal and federal governments, political parties, provincial or federal Crown agencies, boards, commissions or corporations, non-profit organizations and those working in liquor stores and hardware stores.
The website also states provincial government is also “generally not eligible with limited exceptions.”
NDP labour critic Christina Gray lambasted the rollout of the benefit program in a statement Wednesday evening.
“This federal money was meant to be a sign of good grace for the hundreds of thousands of frontline workers who risked their lives when the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Instead, what we have is a confusing maze with criteria that make little sense and that will only serve to frustrate and anger the heroes of this pandemic,” she said.
“I’m appalled to see that non-profit workers do not qualify — these are people who risked their lives to provide food and care for ailing Albertans, and who gave back to their community, during a public health emergency unlike any we’ve ever seen.”
Businesses with questions about the benefit program can connect with a staff member via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone at 310-4455.
Carter added if workers believe their employer has not applied for the funds, or has received funds but has not appropriately distributed them, they can contact the minister of labour and immigration’s office.