Albertans can say goodbye to a major funding avenue. On Monday, April 6, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced that the province's emergency isolation support program would no longer be accepting applications. He explained that the emergency payment program in Alberta was always meant to be a hold-over until the federal assistance plan kicked in.
Kenney had announced on March 19 that the province was setting up a financial support plan for Albertans who were self-isolating due to COVID-19 but were not eligible for unemployment benefits.
He also wanted to encourage individuals exhibiting symptoms to stay home.
The plan was to provide the applicants with a weekly payment of $573 over a maximum period of two weeks, bringing the total payment to $1,146.
But as Prime Minister Trudeau's Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) program took off on April 6, Kenney cut off the provincial financial assistance program meant for Albertans.
"This was to bridge people until the federal program," Kenney said in the province's daily press briefing about the province's response to COVID-19 on Monday.
Alberta's emergency isolation support website, which launched on March 25, crashed on the very first day due to the sheer number of people trying to submit their applications.
From then onwards, it's been plagued with tech issues.
Cody Smith, from Edmonton, told the Edmonton Journal that he had been trying to apply ever since the website opened up.
But because of the Alberta ID set-up, the site kept crashing and kicking him offline over and over again. He took multiple hours a day just to log in and upload his information.
Another individual, Larry Janssen, also told the outlet that he spent 80 hours in total trying to gain access to the website.
In his press conference, Kenney acknowledged the technical issues that frustrated many Albertans over the past 12 days.
"[The website] was never built to handle the kind of demand that we received," he said.
He added that if he were to go back, he'd have invested more so that the provincial website could handle tens of thousands of applications at once.
The program has doled out over $91.7 million to nearly 80,000 Albertans, according to the Edmonton Journal. The initial budget for the plan was set at about $50 million, Kenney said.
The premier also said that Service Alberta is going back and reviewing the individuals who'd applied for the assistance plan but weren't able to get their applications processed.
"I regret for people that didn't get through the system. The system wasn't set up to cope with those demands," he stated.
However, he's pleased that the program turned out to be "twice as large and twice as generous as anticipated."