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Alberta

$1,200.00 boost for “Alberta’s critical workers”

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From the Province of Alberta

$465 million for Alberta’s critical workers

Hundreds of thousands of workers who continue to provide critical services to Albertans during the COVID-19 pandemic will receive a one-time payment in recognition of their hard work and sacrifice.

The Critical Worker Benefit is a joint federal-provincial program that will see $465 million go to approximately 380,000 Alberta public and private sector workers as $1,200 cash payments.

“These workers have placed themselves at the front line of this pandemic in order to serve their fellow citizens during a crisis. Alberta’s government is recognizing their good work. We trust this support will help these workers continue to protect lives and livelihoods as we keep fighting this pandemic together.”

Jason Kenney, Premier

The Critical Worker Benefit will be available to workers in the health-care, social services, education and private sectors who deliver critical services to Albertans or support food and medical supply chains.

“I want to thank all the hard-working staff who have gone above and beyond their regular call of duty to support their fellow Albertans throughout this pandemic. This Critical Worker Benefit will go right into the pockets of hard-working Albertans on the front line who have made sacrifices in their own lives for the greater good and well-being of others.”

Jason Copping, Minister of Labour and Immigration

To be eligible for the benefit, employees must have worked a minimum of 300 hours during the period of Oct. 12, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021.

“Since the start of this pandemic, we have been deemed an essential service and our store, pharmacy and distribution centre teammates have stepped up to support Albertans and all Canadians. We know that our teammates will be thankful for this recognition and additional support from the Government of Alberta.”

Andrew Follwell, vice-president, HR, Labour Relations and IHM, Sobeys Inc.

Under the health-care sector, approximately 161,000 eligible employees will receive the Critical Worker Benefit. These eligible occupations include orderlies and patient service associates, respiratory therapists and technologists, nurses (RNs, RPNs, LPNs), food services, housekeeping and maintenance workers and unit clerks.

“I’m proud to see this acknowledgment of our front-line health-care workers. Their continued dedication over the past 11 months caring for patients with COVID-19, but also continuing to provide other important health-care services, has shown tremendous resilience. Their dedication is the strength of our health system and this is just one small way that we can recognize it.”

Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

In the social services sector, approximately 45,000 workers will receive the benefit. Some of the eligible occupations include community disability service workers and practitioners, personal care aides, child development workers, family and youth counsellors, crisis intervention and shelter workers, home support workers, seniors lodge staff, cleaners, food preparation and maintenance workers.

“It has been due to the tremendous efforts of the front-line staff in seniors housing, that our most vulnerable are safe. The precautionary measures workers have taken within their homes and workplaces, where others’ wellness was prioritized over earning potential and personal enjoyments, is why this acknowledgment is so important. This shows appreciation for those our province has had to depend on to keep seniors healthy, happy and safe in licensed supportive living, including lodges, since the onset of the pandemic.”

Irene Martin-Lindsay, executive director, Alberta Seniors and Community Housing Association (ASCHA)

“Every day, thousands of workers across Alberta support vulnerable people with disabilities and those relying on services provided by shelters. These workers are committed to ensuring people are safe and included in our communities. This benefit acknowledges their extraordinary efforts during the pandemic to provide compassionate and essential care for vulnerable Albertans.”

Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Community and Social Services

“Community group care workers and support staff, as well as early childhood educators, have played a critical role in keeping children and youth safe and healthy throughout this pandemic – including staying open or reopening early on to support families. I want to share my sincere gratitude for all their hard work and dedication during these challenging times.”

Rebecca Schulz, Minister of Children’s Services

“Alberta’s seniors lodge workers and unique home operator staff have gone above and beyond to maintain a safe environment for their residents. I am extremely appreciative for the hard work, dedication, and effort of the front-line workers who support seniors and ensure they remain safe during the pandemic.”

Josephine Pon, Minister of Seniors and Housing

Up to 36,000 workers in the education sector will also be eligible to receive the benefit. This includes teacher assistants, bus drivers, custodians and cleaning staff, and administration support.

“Despite the unique challenges that come with learning during a pandemic, students in Alberta continue to receive a world-class education. This is possible thanks to the hard work of thousands of dedicated education workers. This benefit recognizes their determination to go above and beyond for Alberta’s students.”

Adriana LaGrange, Minister of Education

“Bus drivers across the province have worked tremendously hard to keep students safe while going to and from school. This benefit helps recognize tremendous work done by these essential workers.”

David Shaw, president, Student Transportation Association of Alberta

In addition, eligible private sector workers making $25 or less will qualify for the benefit. These workers include: critical retail workers in grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations; private health provider workers, such as dental assistants, massage therapists and medical administration assistants; food manufacturing and processing workers; truck transportation workers, such as truck drivers and delivery and courier services drivers; and warehouse and storage workers, such as shippers and receivers.

Eligible public sector employees do not need to apply to receive the benefit. Employers will automatically receive the payment through the Government of Alberta to distribute to their eligible employees.

Private sector employers can apply on behalf of eligible employees at alberta.ca/criticalworkerbenefitas of Feb. 17. Employers have until March 19 to apply.

Employers will be responsible for distributing the $1,200 Critical Worker Benefit to their eligible employees.

For detailed information on eligibility and how to apply, please visit alberta.ca/criticalworkerbenefit.

Alberta’s government is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic by protecting lives and livelihoods with precise measures to bend the curve, sustain small businesses and protect Alberta’s health-care system.

Quick facts

  • Alberta’s government contributed $118 million toward the $465-million program.
  • The breakdown of benefit recipient is:
    • Up to $195 million in the health-care sector supporting more than 161,000 workers.
    • Up to $55 million toward the social services sector supporting more than 45,000 workers.
    • Up to $45 million toward the education sector supporting more than 36,000 workers.
    • Up to $170 million toward the private sector supporting more than 140,000 workers.
  • Previously allocated:
    • $12 million for health-care aides
    • $14.4 million for adult congregate care workers
    • $3.62 million for children’s congregate care workers

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Alberta

From maybe to no: Alberta cabinet ministers give range of answers on replacing Kenney

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By Dean Bennett in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The race to replace Jason Kenney as United Conservative Party leader and Alberta premier has two entrants so far along with a number of cabinet ministers who, when asked if they plan to run, delivered answers ranging from maybe to a hard no.

Government house leader and Environment Minister Jason Nixon says he has not ruled out running for the top job but has more thinking to do and, for now, is focused on the spring sitting of the legislature.

“At the end of the day, internal politics are internal politics, but the people of Alberta expect us to come up here and get to work,” Nixon told reporters on his way into the house Tuesday.

“I haven’t ruled anything out (on a leadership bid),” he added. “I’ll be doing what I think is best for the party under the lens of making sure that we stay united and that we defeat the NDP in a year.”

Transportation Minister Rajan Sawhney said she will consult with her family, constituents and Albertans before deciding.

“I haven’t made up my mind as of yet,” she said.

Finance Minister Travis Toews refused multiple times to say whether he would be running or not running, or whether he’s even considering it at all.

“This week we are focused on the people’s business,” said Toews.

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro said he will not run for the leadership but plans to run again for a seat in Calgary-Acadia in the 2023 provincial election.

“It’s never crossed my mind to run for the leader of any political party,” said Shandro. “I wasn’t sure I wanted to be a politician or MLA in the first place.”

Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides said he won’t be in the running.

“I don’t have any plans for anything like that,” he said, adding he does plan to run in the election.

Health Minister Jason Copping also tossed cold water on a bid.

“I’m not considering running for the leadership at this time. I’m focused on delivering health care for Albertans,” he said.

Children’s Services Minster Rebecca Schulz said: “It’s too early to say.”

Labour Minister Kaycee Madu had two words: “No comment.”

On Monday, Jobs, Economy and Innovation Minister Doug Schweitzer announced he won’t run for the leadership and won’t run again for his seat in Calgary-Elbow.

Two candidates — Brian Jean and Danielle Smith — have said they will seek the leadership.

Jean and Schweitzer ran and lost to Kenney in the inaugural UCP leadership race in 2017. Jean has since returned to politics, winning a seat for the UCP earlier this year in a byelection on a platform to unseat Kenney as leader.

Smith is the former leader of the Wildrose Party, which merged under Jean with Kenney’s Progressive Conservatives in 2017 to form the UCP.

The UCP is still working on details of the leadership race and no rules or timeline have been presented yet.

Tuesday was the first day the house sat since Kenney said last week he will quit the top job once a new leader is chosen.

He made the announcement after receiving 51 per cent support in a leadership review vote by party rank and file. He said the result reflects a deep division in the party that won’t be fixed if he stays premier.

The Opposition NDP continued to hammer away at what it calls the “interim UCP” government. It said while the government focuses on its internal drama, Albertans are facing real challenges, including inflation, high gas and utility costs and long waiting lists for surgery.

“(There’s) all kinds of uncertainty in Alberta politics right now, but one constant (is) this premier’s self-importance,” NDP finance critic Shannon Phillips told Kenney as he sat across the aisle from her, signing documents and answering questions in the house.

“Anyway,” Phillips added, “enough about yesterday’s man.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022.

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Alberta

Oilers outlast Flames to grab 3-1 series lead

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EDMONTON — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored his second goal of the night with 3:27 left in regulation as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Calgary Flames 5-3 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in the teams’ second-round playoff series.

Evander Kane, with his NHL-best 11th and 12th of the post-season, and Zach Hyman had the other goals for Edmonton, which got 29 saves from Mike Smith. Leon Draisaitl added two assists.

Connor McDavid also had two assists to give him a league-topping 25 points in 11 playoff outings this spring for the Oilers, who kept their foot on the gas with a third straight victory over their provincial rival.

Elias Lindholm, Mikael Backlund and Rasmus Andersson, on a short-handed goal from his own end in the third period to tie proceedings 3-3, replied for Calgary, which will look to stave off elimination in the first post-season Battle of Alberta in 31 years Thursday at home in Game 5.

Jacob Markstrom stopped 21 shots.

After trailing 3-0 after the first period and 3-2 through 40 minutes, Calgary improbably knotted things in the third on an Edmonton power play when Andersson fired a 150-foot clearing attempt from his own end that somehow fooled Smith at 10:56 and stunned Rogers Place.

But with the Oilers wobbling, Nugent-Hopkins shovelled home his fourth of the playoffs from Markstrom’s doorstep to send the nervous crowd into a frenzy.

Andersson then took a four-minute penalty for high-sticking with 2:40 left to effectively kill off the game before Kane iced it into an empty net.

Edmonton also held a 2-1 series lead in the first round against the Los Angeles Kings only to play what the Oilers described as their worst performance of the month in a 4-0 loss.

They won’t be thrilled with this Game 4 either, but got the victory for a stranglehold on the series.

Markstrom, who had allowed 14 goals in the series before getting pulled after two periods with Calgary trailing Sunday’s Game 3 by a 4-0 score line, played the puck behind his own net on the first shift, but put it right on Nugent-Hopkins’ stick for him to bury his third inside a deafening arena.

The goal was the third-fastest in Oilers’ playoff history, just short of McDavid (19 seconds in 2020) and Fernando Pisani (16 seconds in 2006).

One of three finalists for the Vézina Trophy as the NHL’s top netminder, Markstrom recovered to deny Darnell Nurse on a chance a couple minutes later before Smith was at full stretch on a Johnny Gaudreau one-time chance.

Calgary winger Tyler Toffoli then took a tripping penalty and the Oilers made the visitors pay when Hyman outmuscled a hobbled Chris Tanev — back in the lineup for the first time since Game 6 of the opening round despite a suspected upper-body injury — in tight to bury his fifth goal of the series and seventh of the playoffs at 9:53.

The Flames, who topped the Pacific Division in the regular season, pushed back with a couple of decent shifts, but Kane, who was coming off a natural hat trick in Game 3, made it 3-0 with 66 seconds remaining in the period on a shot that nicked off blue-liner Nikita Zadorov.

Calgary finally showed some life on slick power play in the second with Kane off for slashing, and Lindholm eventually picked the top corner for his fifth at 9:04 after the Oilers twice failed to clear the defensive zone.

Backlund got the Flames within one at 3-2 just 36 seconds later when he stepped past Duncan Keith and fired his fourth past Smith.

Smith made a good stop on a Lindholm power-play chance early in the third before the home side got its second man-advantage with 11 minutes left in regulation.

Markstrom kept his team within striking distance with a terrific pad stop on Draisaitl, who was looking to become the first player in NHL history to register record three-plus points in four straight playoff games, with a terrific pad stop before Andersson’s shocking equalizer from well inside his own blue line.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 24, 2022.

___

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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