Last week, the Provincial Government announced a new program that will pay some frontline workers $1,200 for risking their health, but it’s a little vague on who that is and that’s an issue.
The $465-million critical workers benefit, announced last Wednesday, is a federal-provincial effort aimed at recognizing the occupational risks assumed by 380,000 workers in health care, social services and education as COVID-19 surged through a second wave in Alberta.
Private-sector workers who kept food supplies moving, warehouses stocked and gasoline flowing will also qualify, if they earn less than $25 an hour and their employer applies for the funding.
But, from what I’ve seen thus far, that’s not exactly a complete list and because the official list hasn’t been released, that’s causing friction in work places.
For example, it looks like nurses, respiratory therapists and health facility cleaning and food services staff will get it, but not paramedics and lab techs. That doesn’t seem right, since it’s the paramedics on the street who would be first exposed and lab techs are getting up awful close and personal to draw blood.
When it comes to the private sector, not only is it vague but its dependent on an employer to fill out the application. What if your boss, who isn’t going to qualify, doesn’t feel like doing the paperwork? Are you hung out to dry – if you qualify.
Seems to me if the Provincial Government is using this federal money to acknowledge the risks and stress of the people who’ve been working throughout this pandemic, why not keep it simple.
If you worked the 300 hours required and you make less than the $25/hour threshold they’ve set, you should qualify and you should be able to fill out your own form to apply.
Of course, here’s another question — is this taxable on next year’s income tax.
There’s too many questions causing additional stress and grief around something that’s being put out there as a “thanks for doing what you do”.
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