Alberta expands Critical Worker Benefit program

Workers in social services, supply and movement of goods now eligible

Alberta expands Critical Worker Benefit program
Eligible private sector workers making $25 per hour or less will also qualify for the benefit.

Alberta is expanding the coverage of the Critical Worker Benefit program to include more workers in the province.

The new job categories include workers in social services and the private sector who provider critical services, were essential to the supply and movement of goods and faced greater potential risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their work environments.

“Thanks to all Alberta employees who have continued working to provide services to Albertans and keep our economy running. To show appreciation for as many workers as possible, more $1,200 payments will be going to recognize workers in critical sectors who have not yet received a payment,” said Jason Copping, Minister of Labour and Immigration.

Eligible private sector workers making $25 per hour or less will also qualify for the benefit. These workers include truck drivers, farmworkers, security guards, cleaners, funeral workers, employees at quick service and dine in restaurants and taxi drivers who can demonstrate they worked at least 300 hours during the eligibility period. The complete list of eligible workers for the new phase of the program is available here

They will receive a one-time payment of $1,200.

To be eligible for the benefit, employees must have worked a minimum of 300 hours from Oct. 12, 2020, to Jan. 31, 2021. Support staff working in licensed child care must have worked a minimum of 243 hours during this period.

Eligible social services sector employers do not need to apply. The government will reach out to employers of support staff working in licensed child care programs, disability support workers providing independent living supports, respite, community access, and employment supports, and front-line workers in seniors-serving organizations and non-profit affordable housing providers to confirm details.

Meanwhile, private-sector employers can apply on behalf of employees here from June 22 to July 23. Employers will be responsible for distributing the $1,200 Critical Worker Benefit to their eligible employees.


The news received positive feedback from stakeholders.

“Given the many ways that foodservice staff have provided essential services to Albertans throughout the pandemic, we welcome this recognition of their efforts,” said Mark von Schellwitz, Restaurants Canada vice president, Western Canada. “Our industry is now looking forward to playing a key role feeding the province’s recovery from this public health and economic crisis.”

“Members of the taxi industry are thankful to the Alberta government for recognizing taxi drivers as front-line service providers and offering support through the Critical Worker Benefit,” said Naeem Chaudry, president, Calgary City Cabs.

In April, Alberta amended its Employment Standards Code to provide workers access to up to three hours of paid, job-protected leave to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

First phase

During the first round of the Critical Worker Benefit, Alberta’s government provided $1,200 payments to over 277,800 workers in the healthcare, social services, education and private sectors who deliver critical services to Albertans or support food and medical supply chains. A total of $355 million has been spent on about 277,800 workers in phase one.

Alberta’s government contributed $118 million to the $465 million program. A total of about $367 million has been spent on about 289,800 workers.

Announced in April 2020, Alberta also used $12 million of the one-time federal funding along with a provincial investment totalling $30 million to date to provide a $2 an hour wage top-up for about 12,000 health care aides working in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities.

That month, Ontario also provided a $4 top-up to the hourly wages of workers in long-term care, retirement homes, community care, home care and some hospitals, along with a $250 bonus for those who work more than 100 hours per month.

A January 2021 report found that Canadian provincial governments are not spending enough to support essential workers amid the COVID-19 pandemic.