Coronavirus: Alberta employers and workers welcome government help, but remain worried

Business owners and employees in the Edmonton area say they are relieved to see promises of help coming from Canadian governments. They need it.

Colleen Pushor owns Caprice Cleaning in Sherwood Park. In the last few days about a third of her regular clients have cancelled on her. Nobody wants visitors at the moment.

“As a small business owner, I don’t have the extra funds to keep paying them their part-time wages,” Pushor said.

“As things progress and as we’re home more and more and more, anxiety is starting to build up.”

On Wednesday, she sat with employee Wanda Johnson-Charette. The pair talked about what’s ahead for the business and Pushor explained there would likely be no houses to clean in the near future.

“It doesn’t look like there’s any normal in the near future for us,” said Johnson-Charette, who works part time for Caprice Cleaning.

A couple of years ago, she was laid off and she needs to work part-time to supplement her unplanned retirement. She’s getting more and more concerned.

“There are ways to cut back but sometimes you can’t cut back on your mortgage payment.”

Both looked to Ottawa for help and on Wednesday, the federal government announced $82 billion of aid will be available for people like Pushor and Johnson-Charette.

For Canadians without paid sick leave or access to employment insurance sickness benefits, the government is introducing a new Emergency Care Benefit that will provide up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks.

The benefit, which the government estimates could cost up to $10 billion, is for workers who must self-isolate, those who are caring for a family member sick with COVID-19 and parents who are unable to earn income while schools are closed as a result of child-care duties.

Applications for the benefit will be available in April, the government said.

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