NDP calling on UCP for guidelines, supports and protection ahead of reboot

by Morinville News Staff

NDP Official Opposition is calling for a package of supports to keep workers safe and support businesses during the upcoming relaunch of the provincial economy, scheduled to start as early as May 14.

With some retail businesses, personal services and cafes, restaurants, pubs and bars possibly opening mid-month, the NDP are contrasting Alberta’s situation with Ontario, which the NDP say have released 61 sector-specific reopening guidelines.

“The threat of COVID-19 remains in our province—it would be naive to assume the worst is behind us,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley in a media release Monday. “The only way we can properly reopen Alberta is with robust, evidence-based preparation and meaningful supports for businesses and workers. Without these, the chaos that could ensue will make things harder for most Albertans.”

Based on NDP discussions with workers and small business owners over the past week, the Opposition is making the following proposals to government:

• Establish a small business task force that would develop and release prior to May 14 a consistent set of rules on matters including business access, outside service, product handling, employee safety and consumer masking. Some of these guidelines would be sector-specific. The task force must include employers, employees and medical health experts.

• A set of clear benchmarks demonstrating COVID-19 containment before Phase 2 of the Premier’s reopening strategy is initiated. These benchmarks could be modelled off of those set out by Ontario.

• A guarantee that workers unable to go back to work because of public health rules will be able to access currently available financial supports and any rolled out in the future.
A guarantee that businesses who choose not to reopen until the public health state of emergency lifts will be able to access available financial supports and any rolled out in the future

• A provincial grant program that will assist businesses with procuring appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and a set of guidelines from the Chief Medical Officer on appropriate PPE by sector. The NDP also reiterates a previous call for a weekly PPE inventory report from the province.

• A plan to hire substantially more Occupational Health and Safety investigators and to ensure worksite inspections are being conducted in person, not via webcam.
Clear timelines for reaching the Premier’s goal of 20,000 tests per day, given that current rates have not exceeded 5,000 tests per day.

• A plan to hire more contact tracers to help identify those at risk of exposure to COVID-19.

The NDP say they will be asking for financial support for small businesses that are reopening later this week.

In her daily update Monday, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta’s Chief Medical Officer of Health said work is underway to prepare businesses and companies for a safe relaunch.

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