Premier Jason Kenney just announced an emergency payment program in Alberta that will be given to those in self-isolation amid the COVID-19. This follows an announcement of public health emergency in the province earlier in the week. Kenney also said that student loans and other utility bills will be deferred for now.
Kenney announced "the launching of an emergency payment program of $573 for Albertans who are facing self-isolation and who are not receiving employment insurance benefits," during a news conference Wednesday, March 18.
Harrison Fleming of the Alberta Premier's office tells Narcity that the payment will be $573.00 per week for a maximum of two weeks. The total payment Albertans will receive is $1,146.00.
It will all be available online next week at Alberta.ca, said the Premier of Alberta.
He says their scientists believe COVID-19 will peak "four to five weeks from now," and then decrease from there. He says these measures are temporary.
"Our first priority remains the health of Albertans. The second priority is their financial security," said Kenney during the conference.
Kenney also said that student loan repayment will be deferred for the moment.
"We are providing a deferral of six months, interest-free moratorium, on Alberta student loan payments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans," he said.
The province will also give everyone a break from bills from Albertan utility companies for 90 days.
"We will spare no expense in the medical fight against this pandemic."
Kenney said he wasn't fully sure exactly how many people are eligible for the payment. He also explained that the $573 per week payment plan was specifically for people who are not receiving any other employment insurance benefits.
"We want them to choose the self-isolation if they have to," said the Premier, stating that the payments would hopefully allow more people to take time off work.
The government of Alberta also recently changed its employment standards code to "protect workers for 14 days if they have to leave employment to go into isolation."
There's also a three-month grace period coming for some of your bills. Utility companies are provincially regulated, said Kenney. The companies will communicate with customers directly and agreed not to cut off service if they haven't paid in 90 days.
In total, Alberta will be dishing out $50 million to bridge the gap for workers until the federal emergency payments are paid out, which is expected to happen in April.