Overview

The Critical Worker Benefit will provide 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.

The benefit will be distributed to up to 380,000 workers in the health-care, social services, education and private sectors.

The Government of Alberta is working directly with social service, and education sector employers to distribute the benefit to eligible workers.

Private sector employers and employers with eligible workers in First Nations communities must apply on behalf of their eligible employees by March 19, 2021, using the private sector application portal in the how to apply section below.

Application status

Applications will remain open until Friday, March 19, 2021.

Ministry responsible

Labour and Immigration

Protecting lives and livelihoods wordmark

Funding

Through the Critical Worker 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.

Eligible workers in the health care, social services, education and private sectors will receive a $1,200 benefit distributed through their employers.

Private sector employers have until Friday, March 19, 2021 to apply for the benefit on behalf of their eligible employees.

Eligibility

The Critical Worker Benefit is available to 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.

Eligibility – health-care, social services, and education sectors

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

  • Health-care workers

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

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

    Employer eligibility

    Online applications from eligible health sector employers in phase 2 will be accepted starting on Monday, February 22, 2021. Employers have until Wednesday, March 31, 2021 to apply.

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

    • 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

    How to apply – Phase 2

    Phase 2 health-care employers can apply for the Critical Worker Benefit using the health application portal. It is a different application site than the private sector.

    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 can receive the benefit. Employers must apply for the benefit on behalf of their workers by Friday, March 19, 2021.

    For more information and to apply, go to the how to apply section below.

    Read the Applications Guidelines for the Health Sector operating in First Nations communities.

    Private health clinics

    Eligible private health clinics have until Friday, March 19, 2021 to apply. Employers must apply for the benefit on behalf of their workers through the application portal.

    Private health clinics include offices of:

    • physicians
    • dentists
    • other health practitioners

    For more information and to apply, go to the how to apply section below.

    Read the Application Guidelines for the Private Sector.

  • 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 are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet 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

    do 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 – are eligible. They do 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, providing direct client care, 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 (pro-rated to account for holiday closures) 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

    Eligible social services employees working in First Nations communities can receive the benefit. Employers must apply for the benefit on behalf of their workers by Friday, March 19, 2021.

    Read the Applications Guidelines for the Social Services Sector operating in First Nations communities.

    For more information, read the how to apply section below.

    Ineligible occupations

    The following social service sector occupations are 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 are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet 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 are eligible. They do not need to apply through the private sector portal because the funding will flow through partner ministries.

    Education workers in First Nations communities

    Eligible education employees working in First Nations communities can receive the benefit. Employers must apply for the benefit on behalf of their workers by Friday, March 19, 2021.

    Read the Applications Guidelines for the Education Sector operating in First Nations communities.

    For more information, read the how to apply section below.

    Ineligible occupations

    The following education occupations are 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

Eligibility – private sector

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

Private sector employers must apply on behalf of their eligible employees. For more information and application guidelines, read the how to apply section below. The application period closes on Friday, March 19, 2021.

To be eligible for the Critical Worker Benefit, private sector workers must:

  • earn $25 per hour or less
  • have worked at least 300 hours between the period of October 12, 2020 and January 31, 2021
  • be located and working in Alberta

Workers listed in the following private sectors are eligible to receive the Critical Worker Benefit:

  • Retail – grocery, pharmacy and gas

    The following occupations are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet the above criteria:

    • store shelf stockers, clerks and order fillers
    • cashiers
    • retail sales supervisors
    • pharmacy assistants
    • material handlers
    • shipper and receivers
    • couriers and messengers – not including post offices, bicycle messengers or take-out delivery
    • purchasing and inventory control workers
    • storekeepers and parts persons
    • retail butchers and meat cutters
    • security guards
    • other customer and information services representatives
    • other sales-related occupations
    • cleaners, janitors, caretakers and building superintendents
    • food counter attendants and kitchen helpers
    • bakers
    • service station attendants
  • Food manufacturing

    The following occupations are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet the above criteria:

    • process control and machine operators, food, beverage and associated products processing
    • industrial butchers and meat cutters, poultry preparers and related workers
    • labours in food, beverage and associated products processing
    • material handlers
    • shipper and receivers
    • cleaners, janitors, caretakers and building superintendents
    • other service support occupations
    • testers and graders, food, beverage and associates
  • Truck transportation of food and medical supplies

    The following occupations are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet the above criteria:

    • transport truck drivers
    • supervisors, motor transport and other ground transit
    • cleaners, janitors, caretakers and building super intendents
    • security staff
    • receptionists
    • material handlers
    • delivery and courier services drivers
    • other trades helpers and labourers
  • Warehousing and storage of food and medical supplies

    The following occupations are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet the above criteria:

    • shippers and receivers
    • cleaners, janitors, caretakers and building superintendents
    • storekeepers and parts persons
    • security staff
    • purchasing and inventory control workers
    • other trades helpers and labourers
    • transportation route and crew schedulers
  • Private health clinics

    The following occupations are eligible to receive the benefit if they meet the above criteria:

    • medical administration assistants
    • dental assistants
    • other technical occupations in therapy and assessment
    • other assisting occupations in support of health
    • massage therapists
    • orderlies and patient service associates
    • cleaners
    • medical laboratory technologists in First Nations communities
  • Private sector workers in First Nations communities

    Eligible private sector employees working in First Nations communities can receive the benefit. Employers must apply for the benefit on behalf of their workers by Friday, March 19, 2021.

    Read the Applications Guidelines for the Private Sector.

    For more information, read the how to apply section below.

  • Ineligible occupations

    The following private sector occupations are not eligible to receive the benefit:

    • food take-out delivery workers
    • post office workers
    • bicycle messengers
    • private sector occupations not working in one of the above listed sectors
    • business owners, contractors, self-employed persons and sole proprietors
    • 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, commissions or corporations
    • those working in liquor stores and hardware stores

How to apply

Health-care, social services, and education sector workers

The Government of Alberta is working directly with health-care, social services, and education sector employers to distribute the benefit to eligible workers.

Private sector workers

Important: Private sector employers and employers with eligible workers in First Nations communities, must apply on behalf of their eligible employees using the application portal.

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.

Private Sector Application Portal

Deadline: Employers have until Friday, March 19, 2021 to apply.

Important information for large employers with 200 or more workers

We have made it easier for private sector employers applying on behalf of 200 or more eligible workers. Employers can now upload required information on all eligible employees using the Employee Bulk Upload template available in the private sector application portal.

Follow the steps outlined through 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.

Note: this change only applies to employers applying for the Critical Worker Benefit through the private sector application portal. This change does not apply to health-care employers applying for the Critical Worker Benefit through the health application portal.

  • Step 1. Read the guidelines
  • 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 portal has application forms and templates available for submission.

    Private Sector Application Portal

  • 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.

    Private Sector Application Portal

After you apply

Employers can expect to receive decision on their applications a minimum of 2 weeks after applying. If your application is approved, funds should follow shortly after receiving approval.

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

Approved applicants will receive funds via electronic fund transfer directly into the employer’s bank account. 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 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.

Applications with incomplete or incorrect information, or that require manual review, will experience a delay in processing.

Applications flagged for manual review will appear on the main page of the application portal in ‘Review’ status.

The applicant may be contacted by a program officer for more information to complete the review.

Applicants who have already submitted their application should not reapply. Resubmitting an application could cause further 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.

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]