On Wednesday evening, Alberta Premier Jason Kenney announced a new measure aimed at stimulating the Alberta economy and helping those affected by COVID-19.
Kenney opened his speech in legislature by stating that 22 additional cases of coronavirus had been detected in the province over the past 24 hours, bringing Alberta’s total to 119.
He also noted the severity of gas prices plummeting, stating that the average price of Brent oil, according to a major financial institution, may be as low as $5 a barrel in the second quarter of this year.
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“We have never experienced anything like this in the history of our energy industry,” Kenney said in his speech.
“When layered on top of a massive global contraction in demand and layered on top of five years of economic and social fragility, we are facing a period of profound adversity.”
Kenney announced that the $500 million in supplementary funding put towards fighting coronavirus “will be the beginning and not the end of additional resources to combat COVID-19.”
An additional $50 million has been put aside to help Albertans who are currently self-isolating who meet the chief medical officer’s published criteria, “including persons who are the sole caregiver for a dependent who must self-isolate because they meet the public health criteria, and who will not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated,” a release from the Province of Alberta states.
“The point here is to provide for the availability of cash as quickly as possible so that individuals are not forced to choose between doing the right thing for public health and staying at home in self-isolation if they feel ill or have recently come back from abroad, and working,” Kenney said.
“And so those Albertans need to understand that a payment of $572 will be available to them through this emergency financial support.”
Albertans can apply online for the funds starting next week and should see the funds deposited in their accounts within the week.
Another $60 million will be allocated to municipalities as well as charitable and non-profit organizations in an effort to support the social services of seniors and other vulnerable people.
The Government of Alberta will also be deferring utility charges for Albertans for the next three months, and is asking that mayors enact a similar measure for the supply of water.
As well, Kenney announced that there will be a six-month interest-free moratorium on student loan payments for anyone who is currently in the process of paying back their loans, along with a suspension on the collection of corporate income taxes until August 31 of this year.
“I’m grateful to all employers who are placing the safety of their people above profit. I encourage them, where they can, to provide paid leave to those who have had to take time for self-isolation,” said Kenney.
“These measures are just the beginning – our action plan will continue to roll out as the situation continues to change, and it is changing hour by hour. I can assure the House that the government will be announcing additional measures tomorrow, additional measures on Friday, and additional measures next week.
“The challenges before us are enormous. They will require great resolve, yes, fast action, but also patience.”
With coronavirus on the rise, Alberta Health Services is reminding individuals who attend events and large gatherings to monitor their health for signs and symptoms of COVID-19. And if you’re not feeling well, they recommend staying home at this time. Also, due to unexpected cancellations, please check the event you plan to attend is still taking place. Keep up with COVID-19 news here.