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.

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.

The application period is closed. Private sector employers had until March 19, 2021 to apply on behalf of their eligible employees.

Application status

Application period is closed.

Ministry responsible

Labour and Immigration

Protecting lives and livelihoods wordmark

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.

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.

Eligibility

The Critical Worker Benefit was 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 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

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.

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.

Private Sector Application Portal

Read the list of private sector employers that have received the Critical Worker Benefit. (PDF, 1 MB)

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]