Albertans report long lines, glitches, narrow criteria for isolation funding
Published Tuesday, March 31, 2020 4:26PM MDT Last Updated Tuesday, March 31, 2020 6:41PM MDT
EDMONTON -- The government says about 43,000 applications for self-isolation support from Alberta have been processed since the portal opened last week.
But heavy website traffic meant delays and occasional crashes for thousands of others in need of the cash.
Bryce Krynski told CTV News Edmonton he was in a virtual queue with 5,000 hopeful applicants ahead of him when MyAlberta appeared to quit on him.
“When my time came up for registering my details, the site displayed an error message,” he recalled.
To his horror, he was bumped to the back of the line — this time, behind 25,000 others.
Hours later, at the same spot in the process, he says got the error message again.
“And this is still only the first part of the process,” Krynski said.
“There’s obviously a lack of support for this system.”
CTV News Edmonton has heard similar stories from others who have received errors, were unable to use their ID to register, and who are disappointed with the province’s criteria.
In the legislature Tuesday afternoon, the Official Opposition critic for labour and immigration called on the government to broaden its criteria to match emergency support from Ottawa.
“Albertans who lost their job because of the economic slowdown, parents not working because they’re taking care of kids, people who’ve lost hours but are still technically employed — all of these people qualify under the federal emergency response benefit,” NDP MLA Christina Gray said.
“This government promised Albertans it would provide bridge support until federal programs kicked in and they promised no Albertans would fall through the cracks. This simply isn’t true.”
Labour and Immigration Minister Jason Copping did not say Alberta would match the federal program, but reiterated provincial support was “a temporary measure so Albertans didn’t have to make a choice to go to work or stay home and help stop the spread.”
He encouraged Albertans to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which is retroactive to March 15.
“We appreciate there has been challenges getting onto the website,” Copping added.
“As of Friday, we had successfully processed 17,000 applications and then as of earlier today, we processed more than 43,000 applications,” he said Tuesday. "That’s a 152 per cent increase in just a few days.”
Premier Jason Kenney has said the government is working to fix glitches.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Sarah Plowman