$7 oil, 22 new Alberta cases of COVID-19, and a viral peak still 4 – 5 weeks away, provided the backdrop for Premier Kenney’s remarks in the Legislature today. Speaking through the chair but with increasingly worried Albertans on his mind, the Premier announced emergency economic measures to encourage Albertans to stay home if they have been asked to quarantine in relation to COVID-19.
In just a week’s time, those Albertans will see payments of $572 deposited directly into their bank accounts, intended to provide some relief as Albertans who cannot work wait to access an expanded federal EI program. The federal program, in contrast, won’t begin to accept applications until early April, and it’s not unreasonable to anticipate that it may take a few weeks more for that assistance to flow.
Premier Kenney understood, that for many across the province, that would not be quick enough. Today’s emergency provincial payments are expected to cost around $50M and is accounted for in Budget 2020, passed just last evening.
Other supports are coming, we have been assured. Supports for employers and employees, along with significant economy wide initiatives – “orders of magnitude” more than we have ever seen before. In times as grim as these, the Premier acknowledged his role to bring a sense of hope to Albertans. Stimulus measures in a few weeks’ time will help.