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Premier Kenney responds to federal support for COVID-19

Last Updated Mar 12, 2020 at 1:42 pm MDT

Premier Jason Kenney speaks at the Calgary International Airport before leaving for the First Ministers Meeting on March 11, 2020. (CREDIT: CityNews)

CALGARY (660 NEWS) – Alberta’s premier says he welcomes the financial support from the federal government for COVID-19 but worries it might not be enough.

Jason Kenney was at Calgary International Airport Wednesday morning as he leaves for the First Ministers’ meeting in Ottawa to continue to push for support for Alberta’s economy.

“We are facing a triple whammy right now. With the fragility of our economy after five years of economic stagnation, on top of which, an apparent global economic downturn by the global spread of the novel coronavirus and thirdly, the total collapse of energy prices this week,” said Kenney.

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In regards to support to deal with the novel coronavirus, Kenney anticipates the federal contribution will be around $60 million for Alberta as it’s generally given out on a per-capita basis.

However, he acknowledges the estimated health care costs for dealing with the virus could hit $80 million.

“If the virus spreads at a level beyond what we’re currently estimating, the costs will be significantly higher than that.”

As part of its economic aid package, the federal government is committing $1 billion to provincial health care systems, research and medical supplies.

The Trudeau Liberals will also wave the one-week waiting period for those collecting Employment Insurance benefits if they are at home in self-isolation.

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On top of the federal funding, Kenney says his government will also look at changes including eliminating the need for sick notes.

“We don’t want people who might be sick going into medical clinics and seeing their doctor. We’re also looking at whether we need any clarification that people cannot be laid off for not showing up because they are in self-isolation.”

He also says the aviation industry has been hit hard with Air Canada recently cancelling all flights to Italy. He says Calgary-based WestJet is also losing revenue and any financial aid the federal government gives to Air Canada should also be given to WestJet.