Albertans can now apply for provincial COVID-19 emergency aid
CALGARY -- Albertans affected by COVID-19 can now begin applying for a one-time payment of $1,146 from the provincial government as part of a $50 million relief fund.
Working adults who have lost all or part of their income as a result of having to self-isolate or care for a dependent who is self-isolating can apply for emergency support payments if:
- They have been diagnosed with COVID-19
- They are caring for a dependent who is self-isolating
- They have otherwise been directed by health authorities to self-isolate
- They are not receiving compensation from any other source
Applications can be done by visiting the Alberta.ca website. Those who require assistance can call the Service Alberta Contact Centre at 310-4455.
The website had such heavy traffic in the first few hours that it crashed and officials took it offline. Premier Jason Kenney said during the daily update it is expected to be back online sometime Wednesday.
The provincial funding is for Albertans who are self-isolating because of a positive test or who were told to self-isolate by the health authority.
Albertans laid off because of COVID-19 who have not tested positive or been told to self-isolate will not qualify for provincial funding, the premier's press secretary confirmed. Those people should apply for assistance from the federal government.
The province has announced a number of other measures to help Albertans economically. Utility bills — for electricity and natural gas — have been deferred for 90 days, which can be arranged through your provider.
A six-month, interest free, moratorium will also be in place for Alberta student loan payments beginning March 30, which mirrors a change to the Canada Student Loans Program. You do not need to apply for this.
Customers at ATB can apply for up to a six month deferral on loans, lines of credit and mortgages.
And the province is freezing a 3.4 per cent increase to the education portion of property taxes. It will instead remain at the 2019 level.
The province declared a state of public health emergency on March 17 in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. That means places like bars, pubs, recreation facilities and child care centres were ordered closed and Albertans were told to self-isolate whenever possible and stay at least two metres away from other people.
Many restaurants have also closed, while others are now offering take-out only service.
Gatherings are also limited to a maximum of 50 people and Kenney announced Wednesday police and peace officers will now have the ability to fine people who violate the guidelines.
Tens of thousands of Albertans have been laid off as a result.
Anyone returning from international travel on or after March 12 is ordered to self-isolate for 14 days, along with anyone experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, which include a dry cough, fever, chills, pain and shortness of breath.
The City of Calgary also declared a state of local emergency on March 15, as have several other towns and cities across the province.
Kenney has said the provincial aid is designed to serve as a funding bridge until federal supports begin to flow, which is expected in early April.
Health officials have said those numbers are expected to rise in the coming days and weeks.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which is a merging of two previously announced employment insurance benefits for Canadians who are out of, or off work because of COVID-19.
The new benefit combines the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit and will provide up to $2,000 a month for the next four months.
Trudeau is also vowing that more financial assistance will come as the pandemic wages on, with the first $82-billion aid package set to flow as soon as it passes Parliament on Wednesday.
This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day