THE BIG SHUT-IN: Limited Info For Albertans Pals about Financial Supports from The UCP, and A Long Talk At The End I Suppose

As always, some musical accompaniment. These are a lot of Canadian artists impacted by The Big Shut-In. Press play.

I’ve seen a lot of questions about Albertans being able to access the AB govt’s financial assistance plan. Here’s what I’ve got at the moment. I’ll be copy/pasting certain lines from
Lisa Johnson‘s Journal article for efficiency. I’ll try not to editorialize*, but I probably will. You’ll know it when you see it.
*went long, definitely editorialized*
Johnson’s lede says that beginning as early as this week, Albertans *who qualify* may apply for assistance.
-The assistance is a one-time payment of $1,142, and unlike federal Employment Insurance it only needs to be applied for once. To sign up for the benefit, Albertans need to go to the online Service Alberta portal and create a MyAlberta online ID if they haven’t already.
(I already have a MyAlbertaID, and it’s a pain in the online ass to set up, hopefully they’ve “found efficiencies” in that process)
Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 10.40.40 AM
-The provincial benefit ends April 1, when the federal emergency care benefit — totalling $900 bi-weekly — goes into effect. This needs to be applied for separately and will be delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency, not the EI program. Search Covid19 in the MyAlberta search line)
(The system, not even up today, March 23rd, is designed to be difficult, in order to make sure fewer people can access it. The applications, once online, will be difficult to navigate, and the numbers may overload the system’s capacity. That’s a prediction, anyone wanna bet?)
– Business owners and those who are self-employed who need to enter self-isolation before April 1 can apply for the provincial benefit. (Wait, not employees?)
Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 1.34.15 PM
– Employees who do not have access to paid sick leave through their employer are eligible to apply for federal employment insurance now. (The AB govt is abdicating its responsibility to the citizens of Alberta while making every effort to ensure businesses are taken care of)
Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 1.34.50 PM
– Essentially, you only qualify for the provincial benefit if you do not qualify for EI. (Self-employed, small or large business operators?)
Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 1.34.32 PM
– Albertans who have been told to self-isolate by 811 and have recently been fired or laid off are not necessarily eligible for provincial assistance. (Ima let you read that a few times)
Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 1.35.11 PM
– However, recent changes to the Employment Standards Code mean that technically employers cannot fire or lay off employees who are in self-isolation, said Brittany Baltimore, press secretary to Labour Minister Jason Copping. Job-protected leave for 14 days — up from 5 days — was introduced this week by the provincial government. (So, employers can’t lay you off so that you’ll be qualified for regular EI, but you’ll still qualify for the CRA program, which puts a huge burden on the federal government from likely 3M+ work-eligible Albertans)
Screen Shot 2020-03-23 at 1.35.30 PM
Now, I was on the phone with a self-employed pal this AM, and he didn’t have a MyAlbertaID. So he started applying for it while we were talking and ran into several roadblocks trying to input his identification details from his license. So that’s another hurdle for the Alberta plan. I’m not sure if he’s gone any deeper, he left the call to focus. Hopefully he got it sorted.
Next up, the AB Govt plan from their website, as searched this morning. That’s where the previous screenshots are from.
I’m going to link and screen shot the AB website, because I have to keep digging, but read the language, twice if you need to. Nearly all of Alberta’s financial support money appears to be going to the self-employed, or business, while they pass the buck on to the Federal Government with regard to employees (working people). The thing is, how many of the UCP MLAs or government staff members are small business owners outside of being government employees? We already have proof of some of their businesses outside of government. Are they consultants? If they are, and given their political philosophy, it’s very possible that some are indeed incorporated as consultants, then those people qualify for the benefit as well.

***In this middle of writing this, I got a call about my EI from Service Canada. I thanked Connie for the work they’re putting in, and asked about the mood, and if there was any information she could relay. “The work is hard,” she said, “but we’re trying to get through it. Other than that I really can’t divulge much more.”

Obviously, I understood that, and thanked her again for all the work she and her colleagues are doing. This mobilization of the Federal public service is unprecedented, and I’d encourage everyone to be as reasonable and calm as possible with the people who call. They’re trying to help us, through extraordinary difficulty. Don’t forget that they’re people living through this too. 
Connie and I went through my now-habitual questionanaire regarding my self-employment. She was quick, and understanding, and I thanked her again for her effort and assistance. I’m going to link to the Federal site
***Premier Kenney is speaking now. Guess I’m gonna get back to that later. Holy shit this moves fast***
Note the title of the webpage in the URL space: “covid19 support for employers”. Now, that changes when you send the link, but it’s a bit Freudian in its deployment of the language.

I didn’t want to go “full political pile on” here, and you all know or likely get how I feel about certain things, but this shows where the UCP’s priorities lie, and who they genuinely care about.
I have no idea of what the aftermath of this is gonna look like, nor how the conversation is going to be received by working people.
What I do know is that it’s one thing to get emotionally angry at a government, but that doesn’t lend itself to organizational change.
Rational anger, on the other hand, is an effective tool. It allows you to channel all that emotion and have conversations. To listen, and hear what the other workers around you think. At this point, rational thought has to take over.
We’re only beginning to feel this situation. We have to maintain clear heads, and work together, as working people (I include small business owners in this because so many small business people are just as working class as all of us employees, and I really believe in small business as a local economic driver) to use our common ground to take all this information, lay it at the UCP’s feet, and make sure they know that this time, it’s all of us, and they can’t divide the workers from our common interest again.
None of this what I’m saying is advocating for violence or threats. Violence breeds more violence, and kills coordinated movements. This has to be a consistent, vocal, and organized pressure for legislative change in Alberta. We need to be rational, clear-headed, and listen to the people who are advocating for us as workers.
Nurses, doctors, teachers, carpenters, electricians, pipefitters, grocery clerks and retail stockpeople, warehouse workers, delivery drivers, artists, truckers, store owners, food and beverage servers, child care professionals, middle management office personnel and administrative assistants, righands, gardeners, gas station attendants, even lawyers and legal staffs…think of everyone you know and what they do for a living. I’d guess that nearly all of us are closer to the working class than the executive class, even if we don’t believe we are.
This is a monumental opportunity for working people around the world. This is no time for pointing fingers at other countries for their handling of this. Everyone knows. Consider the working people in other places first.
100 years ago this happened, and it resulted in some good, but a lot of bad long-term outcomes. We need to agree that our first priority as working people is to hold our elected officials accountable locally. Not the big federal soap opera bullshit, or the ever distant (but always loud) American drama.
Politics is indeed local, and your municipal governments and provincial governments are where the groundswell begins.
I’m good with Mayor Nenshi, and I’m good with Prime Minister Trudeau’s handling of this crisis. I’m even impressed by Doug Ford in Ontario, truth be told.
But the Alberta UCP has not held back from their destructive agenda, and both the long and short-term effects on Albertan working people could have serious consequences.
I really hope, and I’m confident that we’ll see the end of this constructively by working together. I know how many hands, and how much team work it takes working together all day to build a bridge, or a tower. Let’s put those hands and minds to good use.
Stay clear, stay calm, and don’t forget: The hammer ain’t gonna swing itself.

One comment

  1. […] for accessing provincial funding (which my friend Mike Dunn covered in the article linked here… )which is unsurprising given this government’s obvious prioritization of corporate interests […]

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