The Alberta Government refuses to recognize all Education Support Staff workers as frontline workers.
This means that Educational support workers who don’t work the 300 hours within the dates stipulated in the criteria, or those workers that work in contact with students and the public whom the government doesn’t recognize, won’t be receiving the Critical Worker Benefit- a $1200 lump sum payment that the government is giving to frontline workers.
We are calling on the government to keep its word, and recognize all Education workers as critical, frontline workers by ensuring we are eligible for the Critical Worker Benefit.
The Government of Alberta announced a new Critical Worker Benefit to compensate essential workers in a range of public and private sectors, including workers in the Education sector on February 10th.
On March 26, payments were issued in accordance with government criteria. While some members of Local 3550 support staff received the critical benefit payment, many did not. Most of the individuals that did not receive the benefit work on the front lines, side-by-side with those that did receive it.
Education support staff work in a wide variety of roles on the front lines throughout the pandemic to ensure that all students receive the critical supports they need. They have borne risks throughout the pandemic and must be recognized and compensated for their work. The limiting criteria for the benefit includes a 300-hour threshold that allowed for the exclusion of precarious workers. These workers are not offered weekly full-time hours, which in the Education Sector is 7 or less hours per day. Despite this, they have sacrificed themselves every single day, putting their health at risk to ensure students get the supports they deserve. These members already struggle to make ends meet and would benefit the most from the Critical Worker Benefit. Other support staff were indiscriminately deemed as non-student contact classifications and were also excluded. This was done despite the School Board arguing in favour of including them and requesting revisions to the government’s criteria.
We know that many of you would like to join these efforts by reaching out to your own MLA and Minister LaGrange and Copping. A provincial wide effort that includes all stakeholders demonstrates the strength and value we all see in this workforce.