Farm workers qualify for Alberta’s ‘critical worker’ benefit

Employers can apply starting Tuesday

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Alberta has expanded the pool of workers eligible for its pandemic-related Critical Worker Benefit to include farm workers starting Tuesday (June 22).

The province announced Tuesday that eligibility for the $1,200 payments would expand to more categories of workers who “provided critical services to Albertans, were essential to the supply and movement of goods, and faced greater potential risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their work environments.”

“To show appreciation for as many workers as possible, more $1,200 payments will be going to recognize workers in critical sectors who have not yet received a payment,” Labour Minister Jason Copping said in a release.

Private-sector employers, including farm employers, can apply on behalf of employees between now and July 23, the province said. Employers will be responsible for distributing the $1,200 benefit payments to eligible employees.

Eligible employees must have worked a minimum of 300 hours during the period of Oct. 12, 2020 to Jan. 31, 2021. They must be making $25 per hour or less, must be located in — and working in — Alberta and must have not yet received a Critical Worker Benefit payment.

In the first phase of the program, about $355 million was distributed to about 289,800 workers, the province said. The second phase will see another $99 million available for about 76,500 workers; of that, up to $80.3 million is earmarked for about 62,200 private-sector workers.

In farming, workers eligible for payments in the second phase must be involved in “crop production, animal production or aquaculture (and) directly involved in the production of food for human consumption.”

Other eligible workers in the second phase are to include transport truck drivers, material handlers, delivery and courier service drivers and “other trades helpers and labourers” as well as light duty cleaners, janitors, caretakers, building superintendents, security guards, funeral home and cemetery workers, taxi drivers and full-service restaurant workers. — Glacier FarmMedia Network

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