Alberta NDP asks government to work with Ottawa for paid sick leave during COVID-19

The NDP opposition is asking the Alberta government to work with Ottawa to offer paid sick leave to workers who may need to miss work because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Opposition says Albertans must have access to paid sick days in case of second pandemic wave

Alberta MLAs returned to the provincial legislature on Wednesday to debate how the COVID-19 crisis response is being handled. (Hugo Levesque/ Radio-Canada )

The NDP opposition is asking the Alberta government to work with Ottawa to offer paid sick leave to workers who may need to miss days because of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Opposition Leader Rachel Notley questioned Premier Jason Kenney Wednesday during an all-party debate in the Alberta legislature. 

Ensuring that Albertans can stay home from work when they need to is vital to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and a potential second wave of the disease, Notley said. 

"We simply can't have people going to work when they're sick because they can't afford to miss a day," she said during a news conference following the debate. 

"Workers need to be able to stay home if they're sick, and know that they can still pay the bills."

The federal government confirmed Monday that it was talking to provinces about short- and long-term ways to offer 10 paid sick days to workers who need to stay home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

The province is looking at all options to support workers through the pandemic, Kenney said during the debate. 

"We're looking at that entire area to see what actions are necessary," he said. 

The Alberta government has committed more than $13 billion in emergency funding through tax deferrals and various initiatives to recover from the COVID-19 crisis, Kenney said.

The province is still analyzing Ottawa's proposal, Alberta Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping said during question period.

"We will assess the federal program and we will be thoughtful about our response," Cropping said. 

Updated financial plan 

Notley also questioned the government's decision to release an updated financial plan for the province in August, when the legislature is not typically in session. 

"We should have an open debate in this house," Notley said.

Albertans cannot wait until the next provincial budget to get a clear picture of the finances, she said. 

"All Albertans know that our revenue streams have been significantly impaired and we should not wait until February to track what the consequences of that are." 

Kenney said debating the new fiscal plan is important and he would consider bringing back the assembly to facilitate it. 

"We want to do what we can to allow for accountability and debate," Kenney said.