Overview

The Critical Worker Benefit provides a one-time payment of $1,200 to eligible Albertans in recognition of their hard work to provide Albertans with the care and critical services they need.

Through the benefit, the Government of Alberta will distribute up to $465 million in funding to eligible workers. This includes up to $118 million in provincial funds, in addition to $347 million from the federal government’s benefit program for low-wage critical workers.

A total of about $367 million has been spent on about 289,800 workers. The benefit has been distributed to about 277,800 workers in the health care, social services, education and private sectors in the first phase of the program for a total of about $355 million.

Announced in April 2020, Alberta also used $12 million of federal funding to provide a $2 an hour wage top-up for about 12,000 health care aides working in long-term care and designated supportive living facilities.

Critical Worker Benefit funding infographic (PDF, 32 KB)

A second phase of the program is open and new categories of workers in the social services and private sectors are now eligible.

Employers with eligible employees in the first phase of the program cannot apply in this round, except for:

  • employers who had a draft application from phase 1
  • health sector employers in private medical clinics that were eligible to apply through the private sector portal in phase 1
  • employers who were eligible in phase 1 and are now eligible in phase 2 for expanded services

We will reach out to these employers regarding how to complete an application.

Application status

Application period for phase 2 is open.

Ministry responsible

Labour and Immigration

Phase 2 eligibility

The Critical Worker Benefit is currently available to workers in the social services and private sectors who:

  • provide critical services to Albertans
  • are essential to the supply and movement of goods
  • have a potential risk of exposure to COVID-19 through their work environments
  • Social services, social services workers

    The Government of Alberta will contact social services sector employers to gather information and coordinate the distribution of the benefit to eligible workers.

    Child care employers will be sent information on how to apply from the Ministry of Children’s Services.

    Seniors and Housing will contact seniors-serving organizations and housing providers to gather information and coordinate the distribution of the benefit to eligible workers.

    To be eligible for the benefit, social services workers must:

    • have worked a minimum of 300 hours during the period of October 12, 2020, to January 31, 2021 (243 hours for support staff working in licensed child care)
    • be operating in one of the following workplaces:
      • licensed child care programs
      • community care settings
      • seniors-serving organizations
      • non-profit affordable housing provider
    • be located and working in Alberta

    Eligible occupations

    Some social services occupations are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet the above criteria:

    Children’s services

    Support staff in licensed child care programs who meet the following eligibility criteria will receive the Critical Worker Benefit:

    • employee of a licensed child care program (not employed by an agency contracted by the licensed child care program)
    • work as a cook, cleaner, receptionist, driver, accountant, bookkeeper or other office staff
    • earn an employer-paid wage of $25 per hour or less
    • worked at least 243 hours between October 12, 2020 and January 31, 2021
    • have not previously received any Critical Worker Benefit payment

    Community and social services

    • disability support workers who provide overnight care and supportive living services funded through Family Managed Services agreements with the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program
    • disability support workers who provide assistance in supported independent living environments, respite, community access, and employment supports funded by the Persons with Developmental Disabilities (PDD) program
    • disability support workers delivering supports such as respite, child care supports, aide supports (in its various capacities) and Specialized Services funded by the Family Supports for Children with Disabilities (FSCD) program

    Seniors and housing

    Seniors and housing – seniors-serving organizations:

    • employee of a seniors-serving organization
    • work in Alberta and are legally authorized to work in Canada
    • still employed with the organization at the time the application is submitted
    • did not already receive the Critical Workers Benefit in the first round
    • worked at least 300 hours between October 12, 2020 through January 31, 2021
    • worked over 50% of their hours in frontline (face to face, in-person) service
    • earned a regular wage of $25.00/hr (gross) or less
    • non-management position

    Seniors and housing – operators of community housing and seniors self-contained programs:

    • on-site management staff
    • building maintenance staff
    • housekeeping staff
    • food services staff
    • other front line staff
    • staffing agency workers eligibility will be determined by their employment agency and are reported separately from operator employees

    Housing management body staff can only receive the payment of $1,200 once. Do not duplicate staff previously reported within the lodge and unique home CWB program reporting

    Senior Management are not eligible for this one time funding and do not get reported.

  • Private sector

    To be eligible for the benefit, private sector workers must:

    • have worked a minimum of 300 hours during the period of October 12, 2020, to January 31, 2021
    • be making $25 per hour or less
    • be located and working in Alberta
    • have not yet received the Critical Worker Benefit

    Workers in the following private sector occupations are eligible to receive the Critical Worker Benefit:

    • truck transportation, primarily engaged in the transportation of goods, in the following occupations:
      • ­transport truck drivers
      • ­light duty cleaners
      • ­janitors, caretakers and building superintendents
      • ­security guards and related security services
      • ­material handlers
      • ­delivery and courier services drivers
      • ­other trades helpers and labourers
    • crop production, animal production or aquaculture directly involved in the production of food for human consumption
    • funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoria
      • not eligible: municipally-run funeral homes, cemeteries and crematoria
    • security guards
      • not eligible: private investigators, armoured car guard, house detective, personal bodyguards and security
    • light duty cleaners, janitors and specialized cleaners working in commercial, institution and industrial locations
      • not eligible: private residence cleaners
    • taxi and limousine drivers
      • not eligible: chauffers and drivers of ride-share companies such as Uber and Lyft
    • workers in full-service restaurants and limited services eating places – workers must be primarily involved in the preparation, cooking or service delivery in an eligible establishment
      • not eligible: drinking places that do not serve food onsite

    Read the application guidelines for the private sector for more information.

How to apply

Social services sector workers

The Government of Alberta will contact social services sector employers to gather information and coordinate the distribution of the benefit to eligible workers. Due to high volumes, it will take time to gather information and process payments. Payments to Community and Social Services workers are anticipated to be ready for release in September and October.

Child care employers will be sent information on how to apply from the Ministry of Children’s Services.

Seniors and Housing will contact seniors-serving organizations and housing providers to gather information and coordinate the distribution of the benefit to eligible workers.

Private sector workers

Private sector employers must apply on behalf of their eligible employees using the application portal.

Read the application guidelines to determine eligibility

In order to access the application portal, you must have a MyAlberta Digital ID Business (MADI-B) user account with a secure login name and password. You must ensure someone in your organization has access to the MADI-B account and application for the duration of the Critical Worker Benefit program.

Private Sector Application Portal

Read the Application Portal Guide (PDF 789 KB) to determine eligibility and for tips on how to use the portal.

Deadline

Private sector employers have until Tuesday, August 31, 2021, to apply. Applications will be assessed on a first completed, first approved basis. We encourage employers to apply early to ensure there is time to address any questions they may have or resolve any issues.  If the Government of Alberta requires additional information on an application to complete an assessment, the application is not considered complete. A request for information will be issued through the portal and if the information is not received within 7 business days, the application will be declined. Please ensure you are monitoring the Private Sector Portal. Exhaustion of program funding may result in an employer’s application not being approved.

Important information for large employers with 200 or more workers

Private sector employers applying on behalf of 200 or more eligible workers can upload required information on all eligible employees using the Employee Bulk Upload template available in the private sector application portal.

Follow the steps outlined in the private sector application portal to access the required template.

Note: employers must use the template provided through the application portal. No other file formats will be accepted. If an application is submitted using an alternative template, your application will be declined. Employers submitting an application using the Employee Bulk Upload template for fewer than 200 employees will also be declined and a new application must be submitted for consideration.

Important information for self-employed taxi or limousine drivers

Self-employed taxi or limousine drivers must include values reported from the following lines of their 2020 Federal Income Tax and Benefit Return: 1) business income and 2) total business expenses. To demonstrate these values, and to help complete the online application, self-employed taxi or limousine drivers need to complete the 2020 Federal Income Tax and Benefit Return Information - Calculation Template (XLSX, 13 KB) and then upload it as an attachment to their online application.

More detailed instructions for self-employed taxi or limousine drivers on how to fill out and attach the this template to their online application are included in the Application Portal Guide (PDF 789 KB).

Application steps

  • Step 1. Read the guidelines

    Before completing your application, read the following application guidelines that apply to your sector. Employers should discuss the program and the eligibility requirements with their staff.

  • Step 2. Create a MADI-B user account and log in

    All applications must be submitted through the online application portal.

    In order to access the application portal, you must have a My Alberta Digital ID Business (MADI-B) user account with a secure login name and password. If you already have a MADI-B account, log in with your existing credentials.

    If you do not have a MADI-B account, go to the MADI site to set up an account before accessing the online application portal.

    Important

    For this program, you are only required to register for a basic MADI business user account using a valid email. You are not required to register for a Verified Account, and do not need to verify your account with a valid driver's licence or identification card.

    Once the account has been created, use your new credentials to log in to the online application portal below. The person who creates and submits the application for the organization is the only person who will be able to view the status of the application in the portal.

    The portal has application forms and templates available for submission.

    Private Sector Application Portal

    Read the Application Portal Guide (PDF 789 KB)

  • Step 3. Complete and submit the online application package

    Applications must be submitted through the online application portal before application intake closure.
    As part of the application, employers are required to submit:

    • employer banking information:
      • financial information including branch, transit and account numbers
      • financial institution address
    • information regarding each worker who may be eligible for payment including:
      • full name
      • date of birth
      • Social Insurance Number
      • occupation title
      • wage (during eligibility period)
      • start date
      • 2 or more pay stubs from the eligibility period

    For detailed information on the supporting documents required, review the program guidelines.

    Applications requiring additional information are not considered complete and will cause delays in assessment.

    Private Sector Application Portal

    Read the Application Portal Guide (PDF 789 KB)

Application status

Employers can login to the private sector application portal to review the status of their application to the Critical Worker Benefit or submit a request for reconsideration of their application.

After submitting their application, employers receive an email, within minutes of sending the application, confirming the application is in received status. If you do not receive a confirmation email, please check your junk or spam folders and the application portal. The application portal always identifies the current status of the application.

If an employer’s application has been declined, the employer has 10 days from the date of the decline decision to seek reconsideration through the application portal by clicking on the ‘Request Reconsideration’ button that displays based on that decision. This button disappears after 10 days and the opportunity for reconsideration is no longer available. Reconsideration is not available to employers who were approved and have a combination of approved and declined employees.

Private Sector Application Portal

After you apply

Employers can expect to receive a decision on their applications a minimum of 4 weeks after applying. If your application is approved, funds will be deposited to the bank account provided on the application. It could take up to 2 weeks after approval for the funds to be deposited.

After you have submitted your application, your application will appear on the main page of the Private Sector Application Portal in 'Received' status. Check the main page for further updates on the status of your application.

If you missed an employee in your application, please complete a new application as soon as possible. Employees cannot be added to an application after it has been submitted or after the portal has closed.

Approved applicants will receive funds via electronic fund transfer directly into the employer’s bank account. It could take up to two weeks after approval for the funds to be deposited. Ensure the banking information provided at the time of application is accurate to avoid payment delays.

Note: employers will receive an amount equivalent to the $1,200 per eligible worker, plus funding to help offset their expenses related to EI and CPP contributions.

The Critical Worker Benefit is a taxable benefit and must be declared on your annual returns. Questions around employer contributions and tax implications should be directed to the Canada Revenue Agency.

Applications will be assessed on a first completed, first approved basis. Applications with incomplete or incorrect information will experience a delay in processing.

The applicant may be contacted by a program advisor for more information to complete the review. Please pay  close attention to requests for information in the CWB Portal. If the information is not received within 7 business days of the request for information, the application will be declined.

Do not submit multiple applications for the same employees, this will cause further processing and assessment delays.

Audit and compliance

All applications and corresponding grants are subject to a potential audit by the Government of Alberta, or their authorized representatives, upon reasonable notice to the recipient.

Any audit process would encompass taking copies and extracts of the records and books of account maintained by the recipient in accordance with eligible criteria outlined in the Eligibility Criteria section of the program guidelines.

If records or accounts are deemed inadequate to permit a determination of eligibility, repayment of the grant funding by the recipient will be required.

Phase 1 eligibility

Phase 1 closed March 19, 2021. This information is provided for your reference.

In the first phase of the Critical Worker Benefit, eligible workers included workers in the public health-care, social services, education sectors and those in the private sector who deliver critical basic services to Albertans, or support food and medical supply chains.

Phase 1 – health-care, social services, and education sectors

Critical workers in the health-care, social services, and education sectors who were eligible to receive the Critical Worker Benefit:

  • Health-care workers

    The application process for employers in the health sector was available in 2 phases:

    1. Employers applying from private health clinics and on behalf of healthcare workers in First Nation communities could apply February 17 to March 19, 2021.
    2. Other health sector employers could apply between February 22 to March 31, 2021, through the health-care application portal that included the critical worker benefit application and operator COVID-19 supports.

    Employer eligibility

    The application period for health-care employees working in Phase 2 is closed. Online applications from eligible health sector employers in phase 2 were accepted from February 22 to March 31, 2021.

    Employers were eligible to apply on behalf of their employees if they were:

    • located and operating in Alberta
    • operating and employing staff in one of the following health-care settings:
      • addiction and mental health hospitals
      • addictions and mental health community/outpatient services
      • residential addiction and mental health treatment facilities
      • supervised consumption services or overdose prevention site
      • opioid agonist therapy clinics
      • long-term care (LTC)
      • designated supportive living (DSL)
      • licensed supportive living (LSL)
      • home care providing in-home health and personal care services
      • residential hospices
      • emergency medical services
      • air ambulance
      • ground ambulance

    To be eligible for the benefit, health-care workers must have worked:

    • in one of the eligible health care settings listed above
    • in an eligible occupation – see the full list in the Application Guidelines for the Health Sector
    • at least 300 hours for an eligible employer between October 12, 2020, and January 31, 2021

    Phase 2 application status

    Eligible health-care employees working in Phase 2 were eligible for the benefit. Employers had until March 31 to apply for the benefit on behalf of their workers.

    Applicants can log in to the health application portal to review the status of their application.

    Log in to the health-care application portal

    Read the Application Guidelines for the Health Sector

    Health-care workers in First Nations communities

    Eligible health-care employees working in First Nations communities were eligible for the benefit. Employers had until March 19 to apply for the benefit on behalf of their workers.

    Private health clinics

    Private health clinic employers had until March 19 to apply.

    Private health clinics include offices of:

    • physicians
    • dentists
    • other health practitioners
  • Social services workers

    Social services workers' eligibility

    To be eligible for the benefit, social services workers must:

    • have worked a minimum of 300 hours during the period of October 12, 2020, to January 31, 2021
    • be operating in one of the following workplaces:
      • children service providers
      • community service providers
    • be located and working in Alberta

    Eligible occupations

    Some social services occupations were eligible to receive the benefit if they met the above criteria.

    Community and social services

    Preventive community services:

    • aboriginal outreach worker
    • addictions worker
    • case aide: social services
    • child and youth worker
    • child-care worker (except day care)
    • community and social services worker
    • community counsellor: social services
    • community liaison worker
    • community worker
    • crisis intervention worker
    • drop-in centre worker
    • family service worker
    • hostel outreach worker
    • home support workers or aides
    • mental health support worker
    • street outreach worker
    • substance abuse worker
    • women's shelter workers
    • youth services worker
    • intensive case managers
    • rapid housing workers
    • housing locators
    • shelter workers
    • food bank workers
    • client support workers
    • outreach counsellors
    • cooks
    • janitorial
    • security
    • custodial

    Not-for-profit organizations delivering front-line services to vulnerable Albertans through:

    • homeless shelters, women’s shelters, food banks and sexual assault centres
    • organizations providing home supports, outreach and case management to seniors, families, individuals experiencing homelessness, family and sexual violence

    did not need to apply through the private sector portal, because the funding will flow through contracts or grants with the ministry.

    Disability services:

    • community disability services worker for 24/7 staffed residences
    • child care worker for our out-of-home placement environments

    Not-for-profit organizations delivering front-line services to vulnerable Albertans in congregate care settings – PDD overnight staffed residences and FSCD out-of-home placements – were eligible. They did not need to apply through the private sector portal, because the funding will flow through contracts or grants with the ministry.

    Children’s services:

    • agency front-line staff who work in child intervention congregate care and child and youth shelters, providing direct client care earning less than $25 per hour
    • support staff who work in congregate care and child and youth shelters where services were not provided remotely and earn less than $25 per hour, including:
      • transport workers supporting clients
      • food services, including cooks, attendants, and kitchen helpers
      • housekeeping, cleaners, janitors and caretakers
      • security staff
    • early childhood educators (all levels) who have worked a minimum of 243 hours – between October 12, 2020 and January 31, 2021 and pro-rated to account for holiday closures – earning less than $25 per hour (before Children’s Services wage top up) at the following types of licensed child care programs:
      • daycare programs
      • out-of-school care programs
      • group family child care programs
      • contracted family day home agencies
      • preschools
      • innovative child cares

    Seniors and housing:

    Workers must have worked 300 hours for the 16-week period from October 12, 2020, to January 31, 2021.

    Critical workers include lodge and unique home:

    • building maintenance staff
    • housekeeping staff
    • food services staff
    • other on-site front line personnel
    • health staff for which there is a master services agreement (health staff employed by the housing management body) in place
      • Note: health staff who are under an access agreement will receive the benefit through Alberta Health Services.
    • staffing agency workers, including Comfort Care Aides’ eligibility will be determined by their employment agency and are reported separately from operator employees

    Staff hours are calculated for your organization overall. This means if they work at multiple locations, the hours from each location can be totalled to see if the staff member meets the 300 hours criteria.

    Housing management body staff can only receive the payment of $1,200 once.

    Head office staff are only eligible if their head office is located within a lodge.

    Social services workers in First Nations communities

    Employers of eligible social services employees working in First Nations communities had until Friday, March 19 to apply on behalf of their workers.

    Ineligible occupations

    The following social service sector occupations were not eligible to receive the benefit:

    • management staff even if they temporarily worked on the front line during the period of eligibility
    • business owners, contractors, self-employed persons and sole proprietors
    • workers who do not meet the eligibility criteria
    • municipal and federal governments are not eligible. The provincial government is generally not eligible with limited exceptions.
    • political parties
    • provincial or federal Crown agencies, boards and commissions or corporations
  • Education workers

    Education workers' eligibility

    To be eligible for the benefit, education workers must:

    • have worked a minimum 300 paid hours for a provincial school authority or a contractor with a provincial school authority, between October 12, 2020, and January 31, 2021

    Hours are for paid work and may include some virtual or online work where the work was performed with students.

    The minimum number of paid hours (300) will be prorated for periods of time when schools were required to be closed.

    As each school district had different dates when schools were closed, minimum hour adjustments will be calculated on a case-by-case basis for individual school authorities.

    Eligible occupations

    The following education occupations were eligible to receive the benefit if they met the above criteria:

    • educational assistant
      • teacher assistants
      • librarians
      • library assistants
      • food service and cafeteria workers
      • learning commons staff
      • English language learner assistants
      • school bus attendants
    • bus drivers
      • contracted school bus drivers
      • board employed school bus drivers
    • custodians
      • board employed school custodians
      • contracted employed school custodians
    • school secretarial staff
      • school secretaries
      • school office assistants

    Not-for-profits that work with the Government of Alberta delivering services to vulnerable Albertans through grants or contracts with our partner ministries from Community Social Services, Children’s Services, or Education were eligible. They did not need to apply through the private sector portal because the funding will flow through partner ministries.

    Education workers in First Nations communities

    Employers of eligible education employees working in First Nations communities had until Friday, March 19 to apply for the benefit on behalf of their workers.

    Ineligible occupations

    The following education occupations were not eligible to receive the benefit:

    • municipal and federal governments are not eligible. The provincial government is generally not eligible with limited exceptions.
    • political parties
    • provincial or federal Crown agencies, boards and commissions or corporations
    • business owners, contractors, self-employed persons and sole proprietors cannot receive the Critical Worker Benefit for themselves, unless included in the list of eligible occupations above

Phase 1 eligibility – private sector

The application period for the private sector closed on Friday, March 19.

The Critical Worker Benefit was available to workers in the private sector who delivered critical basic services to Albertans, or supported food and medical supply chains.

Read the list of employers approved to receive the Critical Worker Benefit (PDF, 1 MB)

Phase 1 application guidelines

Contact

Connect with Critical Worker Benefit program staff:

Hours: 8:15 am to 4:30 pm (open Monday to Friday, closed statutory holidays)
Phone: 310-4455

Email: [email protected]

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