Alberta / covid 19


News release

EDMONTON — Jason Kenney and the UCP spent Tuesday morning fretting about their own safety at work in the legislature, but then refused to discuss providing paid sick leave to keep Albertans safe in their workplaces.

Premier Jason Kenney.

Kenney kept Alberta’s legislature closed for a month, claiming it was unsafe for him and other MLAs to work in. After they returned to work today, the Kenney government voted down an Opposition call for emergency debate on paid sick leave.

“Over the past month, millions of Albertans have gotten up in the morning, kissed their kids and gone into work,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley. “They’ve gone to work at hospitals, daycares, grocery stores, construction sites, industrial facilities, and many other essential workplaces. But Jason Kenney has shown no concern for the safety of these Albertans.

“He has refused to consider the most basic common sense measure that will keep working Albertans safe, and that is paid sick leave. It’s obvious that we can’t have people going to work sick in the middle of a deadly pandemic.”

British Columbia, Ontario, Manitoba, Nova Scotia, and Yukon are all introducing paid sick leave to help slow the spread of COVID-19.

In Alberta, the NDP Opposition drafted a bill to provide sick leave while Kenney and the UCP were focused on fighting each other and ejecting MLAs from their caucus.

Kenney has produced several feeble excuses for his failure to act. First he claimed that offering isolation hotels at no charge had the same effect.

NDP leader Rachel Notley.

“That’s nonsense,” Notley said. “Your family doesn’t stop eating for two weeks when you isolate. You don’t get to deduct two weeks from the rent or the mortgage. Utilities, car insurance, cell phone bills all still have to be paid, and that’s why people are still going into work sick.”

Later, Kenney dishonestly argued that paid sick leave would be too expensive for business, even though the NDP plan is for all costs to be paid by the provincial and federal governments.

On May 20th, Murray Sigler, CEO of the Calgary Chamber of Commerce, endorsed paid sick leave as a way to slow the spread of the virus, provided the government steps up to fund it.

The same day, Dr. Deena Hinshaw said supporting Albertans in staying home when sick was an important way to contain COVID-19.

“If there is one thing we should have learned in the second wave and then again in the third wave, it’s that COVID is unpredictable,” Notley said. “I want these case numbers to keep falling and I want them to stay down for good. Paid sick leave is an effective way to do that and keep businesses operating, so anyone who is eager to see public health measures lifted and to stay lifted should support this idea.”

“It’s incredible that even after a month avoiding his workplace, Jason Kenney only wanted to talk about ways to keep himself safe,” Notley said “I want to talk about how to keep Albertans safe — and I want to do more than talk. That’s why we have written a draft bill to get this done. We could have gotten this done in no time.

“Jason Kenney still refuses to keep people safe. He is failing Albertans.”


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