CALGARY -- Amid a high unemployment rate, a record provincial deficit and the COVID-19 pandemic, dozens of Calgary unions are calling on the province to improve what they’re calling the ‘social safety net’.

“Calgary's unemployment rate is 14.4 per cent, the worst among any major city in the Country,” Alexander Shevalier, President of the Calgary and District Labour Council (CDLC) said in a press release.

“We need recession-proof jobs.”

The CDCL says Alberta should focus on a job creation strategy, economic diversification, and paid sick leave.

“COVID-19 has also highlighted the need for paid sick leave,” Shevalier added

“Workers should not have to choose between getting better and paying the rent. Paid sick leave needs to be the cost of doing business. It's a necessity.”

In late August, the Government of Alberta released its first-quarter fiscal update highlighting the largest deficit in the province's history--$24.2 billion forecast for 2020-2021. That number is nearly $16.8 billion more than originally estimated in Budget 2020. Alberta's debt is projected to reach $99.6 billion.

When it comes to a recovery strategy, Shevalier said it needs to include economic diversification and be inclusive for all workers regardless of age or background.

According to the CDLC, unemployment is higher for worker who identify as Black (17.6 per cent), Arab (17.9 per cent), and Southeast Asian (16.6 per cent) compared to workers who do not.

The CDLC works with 60 affiliated local unions with about 44,000 members. The organization is the local branch of the Canadian Labour of Congress, which represents 1.5 million unionized workers across the country.

CTV News has reached out to the Government of Alberta and is awaiting a reply.