'It's a disgrace': Alberta unions slam province for leaving millions in federal pandemic pay unclaimed
CALGARY -- It has been nearly seven months since the federal government pledged up to $3 billion to provinces to boost pay for people working on the front lines of the pandemic, but Alberta has still only claimed a fraction of its share.
Documents obtained by the federal NDP show that, up to September 28, Alberta had only received $12 million of its $347 million allotment. Every other province and territory has claimed at least 50 per cent of its share — including both Ontario and Quebec claiming full funding. Alberta had claimed just three per cent of its available money.
“It’s a disgrace for Alberta to be here,” said Rory Gill, the president of the Alberta division of the Canadian Union of Provincial Employees.
“Alberta is the province that has accessed federal funds to the absolute lowest amount possible.”
Each province has to match a third of the federal funding and it is up to each jurisdiction to decide which essential workers qualify for the pandemic pay. It could be given to workers in long term care centres, health-care workers or correctional staff.
Alberta does provide millions every month in wage top-ups for aides in private care homes. Some of Alberta’s unions say more essential workers should be getting the extra pay.
“These are people who care for the most vulnerable in our society — the elderly and the infirm. And they’ve been ignored,” Gill said.
The province says more of the federal wage top-up funding will be going to Alberta workers soon.
“In further negotiations with the federal government, Alberta has secured tens of millions of additional dollars that will be announced in the coming weeks,” reads a statement from the finance minster’s office.
Subsequent questions about the exact amount of money Alberta will receive and when it will come were not answered.