Loading articles...

Calls for Kenney to crack down on work camps in northern Alberta

Last Updated Mar 20, 2020 at 5:27 pm MDT

Suncor's base plant with upgraders in the oil sands in Fort McMurray Alta, on Monday June 13, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — The Alberta Federation of Labour says an apparent case of COVID-19 in a work camp near Fort McMurray shows the Kenney government needs to crack down on the situation up north.

Numerous Calgary workers, including tradespeople, have told 660 NEWS their jobs are being threatened if they don’t go to work.

AFL President Gil McGowan says many workers are still on the job and in close quarters.

“Employers in the construction industry seem to be dragging their feet.  Individual employers are not complying, frankly, with the advice that is coming from public health officials to send people home and participate in social distancing,” says McGowan.

“It’d be great if employers in that sector were voluntarily following the directions from public health officials, like employers in other sectors are, but they’re not.  So they’ve been given a chance to do it voluntarily, I think this requires the government to assert itself and say that public health trumps all other considerations, period.”

READ MORE: Fort McMurray worker camp sends guest to hospital with suspected COVID-19

“This is no longer a hypothetical issue.  I’ve spoken with the federal labour minister about this yesterday by phone and I spoke with the provincial labour minister about this as far back as last Friday.  So it’s on their radar screen but nothing has been done.”

McGowan says the Edmonton Construction Association sent a letter to Premier Jason Kenney asking for their industry to be exempt from the recommended measures.

The head of the association says they did send a letter but that it was just to ask for clarification on the situation and that they always maintain a position that the safety of the worker is the priority.