Kenney government’s wage support for frontline workers is late, cynical and divisive

EDMONTON – Today’s wage-support announcement for Alberta’s frontline workers is far too late, cynical and political, and continues to divide Alberta workers.

“The Kenney government didn’t want to provide financial support for Alberta’s frontline workers. It made this announcement not because it values their work, but because it was pressured and embarrassed to do so,” says Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour.

“Alberta’s frontline workers needed this wage support months ago like other provinces provided. Thousands of workers have dropped out of the labour market because of burnout or illness. They won’t get support from this government.

It took the AFL and Member of Parliament, Heather McPherson, to work through federal channels to determine that Kenney’s support for frontline workers was shamefully low and a disgraceful outlier compared to other provinces.”

“It’s also an unnecessarily divisive and provocative move. Only lower wage workers in select jobs will get the support. Many workers in both the public and private sectors in the trenches, delivering the services our province needs during the pandemic, will not see a dime,” says McGowan. “Another troubling aspect of this is that private sector workers have to rely on their employers to apply on their behalf.” 

“And it’s a cynical and political announcement. With the Kenney government’s political fortunes sagging, it wants to change the channel from the Premier’s mishandling of key economic, environmental and public-safety SNAFUs during the pandemic,” says McGowan. “And let’s not forget that Premier Kenney wants to cut the wages of frontline public sector workers and fire thousands of nurses and other healthcare workers. For them, today’s announcement might seem like a cruel joke.”

“Alberta’s unions have been asking for this wage support for frontline workers for months. We’ve asked the Kenney government to be involved in decisions, policies and programs that affect Alberta’s workers. The responses given include derision, misinformation, and stony silence.

The message that the Kenney government sent to Alberta’s frontline workers with today’s announcement is that it can’t be trusted to do the right thing. Workers need to fight the government to step up and support them. It doesn’t happen naturally with this government.”


Ramona Franson
Director of Communications, AFL
[email protected]

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