Wage top-up cash better late than never, but reeks of UCP opportunism
EDMONTON—The Alberta Union of Provincial Employees (AUPE) welcomes new wage top-up payments for Albertans working on the frontlines against COVID-19, but Premier Kenney’s cynical gesture rings hollow.
On Wednesday, Feb, 10 at 1:00 p.m., Premier Kenney and Labour Minister Copping announced their government would finally access nearly $346 million in funding from the federal government and share it with Albertans. $1,200 in total will be sent to some workers in the form of a one-time payment. Given the pandemic started approximately 11 months ago, this amounts to $109 per month.
“Last spring, AUPE approached the government hoping to follow the lead of other provinces and institute an hourly wage top-up for all front-line workers,” says AUPE President Guy Smith. “Unfortunately, the government finally came to today’s decision unilaterally, without any input or consultations with the unionized workers of this province.
“Disgracefully, the government ignored its own employees, those who have been on the front lines from the very beginning. Premier Kenney wants thanks for this one-time payment while calling for huge cuts to AUPE members’ wages and our jobs. The disrespect, disregard and dismissal of these dedicated workers is a slap in the face to those who are putting themselves at risk to protect Albertans.”
Alberta’s front-line workers deserve this wage top-up, and they have deserved it since the federal government announced this $4 billion cost-share program in May of last year.
To receive the wage top-ups nearly one year later in the form of a one-time payment is better late than never, but it reeks of political opportunism and desperation from a government in the throes of carelessness, hypocrisy, and scandal.
“By waiting so long to access these funds and giving them to some workers and not others, Premier Kenney is trying to divide and conquer workers while proving he is only interested in distracting Albertans his massive, endless, self-inflicted failures,” says Smith.
Smith also notes not nearly enough workers will receive the wage top-up. While some AUPE members working in health care and education will be supported, Premier Kenney has left out many of their frontline colleagues, like part-time and casual health care workers who may not meet the 300-hour since October threshold to receive the payment.
“This government has attacked front line workers throughout the pandemic,” says Smith. “Through mass lay-offs, threats of huge job losses, pressuring for wage rollbacks and other concessions, egregious labour legislation, and now scandal after scandal, the government has shown its contempt for Albertans.”
AUPE President Smith is available for interviews.
Please contact Alexander Delorme, AUPE Communications Officer, at 780-264-9274 or email@example.com