COVID-19 | Alberta Critical Worker Benefit

As part of their COVID-19 relief program, the Alberta Government recently announced that eligible workers in “critical” fields such as health care, social services, education, and relevant private sectors will receive a one-time benefit of $1,200.

Since the announcement of the “Alberta Critical Worker Benefit,” our team at JMH & Co. has received numerous questions from clients inquiring whether this benefit will be available to them or to their business. In this blog, we will answer your most commonly asked questions and clarify the requirements for receiving this new benefit. 

See our February 18, 20201, update here on the application process.

Summary

  • The new “Critical Worker Benefit” is a one-time payment of $1,200 to eligible Alberta employees. 
  • Applications are submitted by the employer of eligible private-sector employees.
  • Applications will be open from February 17, 2021, to March 19, 2021.
  • In the private sector, employees must earn less than $25.00 per hour.
  • Employees must have worked at least 300 hours in the period of October 12, 2020 to January 31, 2021 (an average of 19 hrs per week over that 16 week period).  

Eligible employees working in Alberta will receive a one-time payment of $1,200. This benefit will be provided to employers to pass on to their employees, not directly to the individual employees.

Individuals cannot apply for this benefit – their employer must apply on their behalf.

Eligibility

According to the eligibility criteria released by the Alberta Government, employees must work in one of the following sectors:

  • Health-Care Workers – e.g. continuing care, acute care, addictions and mental health, home care, or hospice care
  • Social Services Workers – e.g. children service providers, community service providers
  • Education Workers – e.g. educational or teacher assistants, bus drivers, custodians, and janitors, school secretarial staff-related positions
  • Retail – Grocery, Pharmacy, Gas, Health, and Personal Care
  • Food Manufacturing
  • Truck Transportation
  • Warehousing and Storage
  • Private Health Clinics – e.g. medical administrative assistants, dental assistants, other technical occupations in therapy and assessment, other assisting occupations in support of health, massage therapists, orderlies, and patient service associates, cleaners

The following sectors are not specified in the listed occupations and therefore do not seem to be eligible at this time:

  • Restaurant Employees
  • General Retail Employees
  • General Manufacturing Employees

Applying

Private sector employers must apply on behalf of their eligible employees using the online application portal. The application portal will launch on Wednesday, February 17, 2021 and all applications must be submitted by Friday, March 19, 2021. Public sector employees do not need to apply for the benefit. The Government of Alberta will work directly with public sector employers to distribute the benefit to eligible workers.

Questions?

Still have questions? We do too. There are a number of details that have not been released by the government, although this is not surprising given the newness of the program. 

We hope to have answers to the following questions when the full guidelines are released by the government on February 17, 2021:

  • TaxationIs the payment of $1200 taxable?  
  • CPP and EIIs the payment subject to deductions for Canada Pension and Employment Insurance?  Does the employer have to contribute the employer’s portion of CPP and EI?
  • Application ProcessWhat is the application process?  Other Alberta grants have used the Alberta Government process, which requires registration with the Alberta Government for a unique identifier. This application may require the same.
  • Risk of ErrorWhat are the consequences if an employee is deemed ineligible after payment has been made? Will the Alberta Government screen eligibility in advance of making payments, or is the employer responsible if repayment is required?  

Unlike previous support programs that benefited the employer, this is strictly a benefit for employees. There is no financial benefit to the employer, only the satisfaction of being able to assist their employees.

Stay tuned for more updates on the Alberta Critical Worker Benefit and other COVID-19 relief programs by following us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. 

 

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