Dear HSAA members:
The announcement this week of a $1,200 payment to workers who have been reporting to work on a regular basis during the second wave of the pandemic was welcomed.
Only last week, HSAA had called on Jason Kenney and his government to distribute the money that had been made available by the federal government at least eight months ago. The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) had released a report, commissioned by our national union, the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE), and urged by me at our executive board table, that showed Alberta lagged behind most other provinces in COVID relief payments. The report also showed that our provincial government had left more than $675 million in federal money on the table, while front-line workers were continually being asked to sacrifice more.
When Minister of Labour, Jason Copping, called to tell me about the upcoming announcement, my immediate question to him was about what workers would be included. Our experience with vaccinations and other dealings made me suspicious of what groups would be considered “critical.” His initial response to me was that he understood that every employee of AHS and APL, provided they met the hours threshold, would be included. I immediately asked about DynaLIFE and the other private health providers where our members work. He indicated that those employers would have the ability to apply individually on behalf of their employees.
We’re now hearing that this information may not be correct and that there are several groups that may be left out. Through the grapevine, I’m hearing that a complete list of inclusions won’t be available until February 17.
Once again, we’re left shaking our heads at the lack of planning on the part of this government. One might expect that after waiting for eight months or more for this program to be developed that they would have the details worked out. Instead, they have taken a good news announcement and created even greater anxiety for the workers they intended to recognize.
Rest assured that my priority is to ensure that all our members are considered for this payment and that we don’t leave it to politicians to decide who is critical and who is not.
The government hasn’t consulted with our union, or any other, on any of their plans for this roll out or on any other program, so we are all scrambling to gather information as it becomes available. You can help us as well. If you hear of anything new from your employer or happen to receive payment, please let us know. You can always email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us at 1-844-280-HSAA (4722).