CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Low-paid essential workers in Alberta are still waiting for their wages to be topped up, four months after the federal government pledged billions to reward those on the front lines.
A spokesperson for Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping said Ottawa rejected its first proposal for the top-up program and it submitted its second request on Friday.
However, Roy Gil with CUPE Alberta is putting the blame squarely on the UCP government, saying it doesn’t recognize the contributions of front line workers.
“I’m just shocked at the level of cynicism that this government has shown. Time and time again since this horrible pandemic began, this government has gone as slowly as they can, they’ve been as obstructionist as they can whenever there’s cost-sharing from the federal level.”
Most provinces have already accessed the federal funding to give extra pay to healthcare workers, first responders, and other crucial employees.
Gil added CUPE has made numerous attempts to work with the government on top-ups for workers but said as soon as the federal government came into play, those conversations stopped.
“There’s different political ideologies across the country, there’s different types of governments. Alberta is the worst when it comes to talking to unions, when it comes to dealing with working people.”
“They don’t care about frontline workers whether they are in education, whether they are in healthcare, whether the folks work in grocery stores. All they really care about is making sure their corporate sponsors are taken care of.”
Last May, Prime Minister Trudeau announced $3 billion for a program to top-up the pay of frontline workers during the pandemic, with the provinces contributing an additional $1 billion.
“If you’re risking your health to keep this country moving and you’re making minimum wage, you deserve a raise,” Trudeau said at the time.
However, Trudeau added the provincial premiers will make the final call on which workers count as essential and will get a top-up, and how the money will be spent.
-with files from The Canadian Press