Financial and Health Supports During COVID-19

While many UFCW Local 401 members continue to work on the front lines of the situation surrounding COVID-19, there may be circumstances where you are suddenly unable to work.

Depending on where you work, you may have access to paid leave or other financial support through your union contract or in your employer’s response to the COVID-19 situation. But this won’t apply to some workplaces.

We’ve put together the below resources for some of the most common situations we’ve encountered over the past weeks. We also include resources for other kinds of support, including mental health, housing, and benefits information.

Union staff members are working around the clock supporting members through this difficult situation. If you have any doubts about your entitlements or options available to you, please reach out to us at 1.800.252.7975 or ufcw@ufcw401.ab.ca

FINANCIAL SUPPORT BASED ON YOUR SITUATION BELOW

Government support is available from two main sources, the federal and provincial governments, and what is available depends on your situation. There are other forms of relief available through things like student loan payment deferral and housing support (see below).

In Alberta, you can dial 2-1-1 on your phone to find out about specific supports available in your community.

Employment Insurance (EI) is an important benefit available to millions of Canadians, and it is something most workers pay into. Normally, you qualify for EI if you have worked at least 600 hours in the last 52 weeks. If you don’t qualify for EI, the Federal Government has created the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to help.

All workers who may have contracted COVID-19 through your workplace should make a WCB claim as well. Information on how to make a WCB claim is below and available here.

Please do not go to a Service Canada Office if you are ill or in self-isolation. Also, for EI, you DO NOT need a doctor’s note for COVID-19.

The best and most up-to-date information on COVID-19 is available from Alberta Health Services here. Please click here to visit the Alberta Health Services COVID-19 website.

Sometimes information in English is difficult for members to access. The Association of International Medical Graduates of Alberta has put together the following helpful videos providing pertinent information on COVID-19 in various languages.

What is COVID-19?

Arabic (Iraq) |  Arabic (Sudan) |  Bengali |  Farsi |  Hebrew |  Hindi |  Igbo |  Ilocano |  Kapampangan |  Malayalam |  Mandarin |  Punjabi |  Russian |  Sinhala |  Tamil |  Ukrainian |  Urdu |  Yoruba

What is social/physical distancing and why is it important?

Arabic (Iraq) |  Arabic (Sudan) |  Bengali |  Farsi |  Hebrew |  Hindi |  Igbo |  Ilocano |  Kapampangan |  Malayalam |  Mandarin |  Punjabi |  Russian |  Sinhala |  Tamil |  Ukrainian |  Urdu |  Yoruba

When to seek medical attention

Arabic (Iraq) |  Arabic (Sudan) |  Bengali |  Farsi |  Hebrew |  Hindi |  Igbo |  Ilocano |  Kapampangan |  Malayalam |  Mandarin |  Punjabi |  Russian |  Sinhala |  Tamil |  Ukrainian |  Urdu |  Yoruba

How to prevent COVID-19

Bangla |  Hebrew |  Mandarin |  Ukrainian |  Urdu
  1. Check with your Union Labour Relations Officer to see if you are eligible to receive paid leave through your employer or benefits through your collective agreement.

  2. If you have a confirmed case of COVID-19 related to your work, you should do the following:

    If you have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and believe you contracted the illness as a result of exposure at work, we strongly encourage you to make a Workers’ Compensation (WCB) claim so that you can have access to benefits and services for work-related accidents and illnesses. Here is a short video on how to make a WCB claim: https://youtu.be/m_GuTBTuC5Q

    INFORMATION ON WCB CLAIMS AND COVID-19

    If you are in isolation as a precaution but DO NOT have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, you can apply for Short-Term Disability through your benefits, or through EI sick benefits (See point 3 below).

    Important: If you have been working and tested positive for COVID-19, you should make a WCB claim. If you previously applied for STD or EI Benefits and your WCB claim is accepted, you will be asked to pay back any STD benefit you received for the same time period.

  3. Apply for EI Sickness Benefits here
    Note: EI Sickness Benefits applications will automatically be assessed for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (below), so there’s no need to submit a new application for that.

    How much?
    15 weeks of payments worth up to 55% of your usual pay or $573 per week, whichever is less


  4. If you don’t qualify for EI, you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Eligibility details are here.

    The
    application is available through the CRA My Account online and over the phone. The application info is here.

    How much?
    Lump sums of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months if you are eligible retroactive to March 15.
    After you apply, you should get your payment in 3 business days if you signed up for direct deposit. If you haven’t, you should get it in about 10 business days.


  5. There will be an increased GST rebate for low- and modest-income Canadians in May

    How much?
    One-time special payment in May of up to $400 for single people and $600 for couples.


  6. Alberta Emergency Isolation Support
    Please note the Alberta government has ended this program as of April 6, 2020

Please note the details listed above are subject to change. For the most current details, we recommend checking with the appropriate government agency.

  1. Check with your Union Labour Relations Officer to see if you are eligible to receive paid leave through your employer or benefits through your collective agreement.

  2. Apply for EI Caregiver Benefits here 
    Note: EI Caregiver Benefits applications will automatically be assessed for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (below), so there’s no need to submit a new application for that.
    How much? 15-35 weeks of payments worth up to 55% of your usual pay or $573 per week, whichever is less


  3. If you don’t qualify for EI, you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Eligibility details are here.

    The
    application is available through the CRA My Account online and over the phone. The application info is here.

    How much?
    Lump sums of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months if you are eligible retroactive to March 15.
    After you apply, you should get your payment in 3 business days if you signed up for direct deposit. If you haven’t, you should get it in about 10 business days.


  4. There will be an increased GST rebate for low- and modest-income Canadians in May
    How much? One-time special payment in May of up to $400 for single people and $600 for couples.


  5. Alberta Emergency Isolation Support
    Please note the Alberta government has ended this program as of April 6, 2020

Please note the details listed above are subject to change. For the most current details, we recommend checking with the appropriate government agency.

  1. Check with your Union Labour Relations Officer to see if you are eligible to receive paid leave through your employer or benefits through your collective agreement.

  2. Apply for EI Regular Benefits here

    Note: EI Regular Benefits applications will automatically be assessed for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (below), so there’s no need to submit a new application for that.
    How much? 14-45 weeks of payments worth up to 55% of your usual pay or $573 per week, whichever is less


  3. If you don’t qualify for EI, you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Eligibility details are here.

    The
    application is available through the CRA My Account online and over the phone. The application info is here.

    How much?
    Lump sums of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months if you are eligible retroactive to March 15.
    After you apply, you should get your payment in 3 business days if you signed up for direct deposit. If you haven’t, you should get it in about 10 business days.


  4. There will be an increased GST rebate for low- and modest-income Canadians in May
    How much? One-time special payment in May of up to $400 for single people and $600 for couples.


  5. Alberta Emergency Isolation Support
    Please note the Alberta government has ended this program as of April 6, 2020

Please note the details listed above are subject to change. For the most current details, we recommend checking with the appropriate government agency.

  1. Check with your Union Labour Relations Officer to see if you are eligible to receive paid leave through your employer or benefits through your collective agreement.

  2. Make sure you are getting your Canada Child Benefit
    In May 2020, the federal government will automatically pay a lump sum top-up to your Canada Child Benefit (CCB).Check your bank account and make sure you’re getting CCB. If yes, you’re all set, and payment will come in May.If not, apply for CCB here

    How much?
    Up to $550 per month per child plus provincial amounts. Amounts vary based on where you live, so check here


  3. If you don’t qualify for EI, you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Eligibility details are here.

    The
    application is available through the CRA My Account online and over the phone. The application info is here.

    How much?
    Lump sums of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months if you are eligible retroactive to March 15.
    After you apply, you should get your payment in 3 business days if you signed up for direct deposit. If you haven’t, you should get it in about 10 business days.


  4. There will be an increased GST rebate for low- and modest-income Canadians in MayHow much? One-time special payment in May of up to $400 for single people and $600 for couples.

  5. Alberta Emergency Isolation Support
    Please note the Alberta government has ended this program as of April 6, 2020

Please note the details listed above are subject to change. For the most current details, we recommend checking with the appropriate government agency.

  1. Some major banks and lenders are allowing customers to apply for deferrals on payments for loans, lines of credit, and mortgages. Check with your lender and enquire about availability and eligibility.

  2. The Alberta government has programs to help low-income renters, but they have been under review. It’s not clear if new applications are being accepted, but you can call 780-422-0122 or visit here.The Alberta government has announced new protections for all renters facing financial hardship due to COVID-19. Details are here.
    • Tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1, 2020.
    • Rents on residential properties or mobile home sites will not increase while Alberta’s State of Public Health Emergency remains in effect.
    • Late fees cannot be applied to late rent payments until June 30 and cannot be collected retroactively for this time.
    • Landlords and tenants need to work together to develop payment plans while COVID-19 is being managed.
    • Landlords can still file applications and receive orders for possession if the reason for the eviction is unrelated to rent and/or utility payments, or if a tenant refused to negotiate or comply with a payment plan.

    Further Resources:
    Suspending Eviction Enforcement
    Rent Payment Plans
    Information for renters is available here: 1-877-427-4088

    In Calgary, Momentum is offering micro-loans to renters to help them stay housed. They can be reached at 403-272-9323


  3. You can apply to have up to 90 days to pay your electricity and natural gas bills without being cut-off, regardless of the service provider. See more information here.

Canada Student Loan repayments will be paused (without interest accrual) for 6 months, beginning March 30, 2020. This is automatic, so there’s no need to apply for it.


The deadline to file income taxes has been extended from April 30th to June 1st in order to assist with those who may need some extra time to get this done.

But if you are applying for things like the Canada Child Benefit for the first time (see above), you may want to file sooner. The deadline for paying off any outstanding balances interest-free has also been extended to July 31st.

Benefit providers have responded differently to the COVID-19 situation. It’s always best to check with your plan provider to see what kinds of programs they have in place.

UFCW Local 401 participates directly in four jointly trusteed health and dental benefit plans. For workplaces where the following benefit plans are in place, plan Trustees have opted to waive hours eligibility requirements through to June 30, 2020, for those who were on the plans as of March 13, 2020.

In other words, regardless of your hours worked, if you are on one of the below plans, you won’t lose your benefits:

  • UFCW Local 401 – Real Canadian Superstore Benefit Trust Fund
  • UFCW – Canada Safeway Limited Part-Time Employee Benefit Trust Fund (Alberta)
  • UFCW Local 401 Dental Care Trust Fund
  • Alberta Retail Meat Industry Dental Care Trust Fund

The Trustees will continue to monitor the situation and provide further updates.

Please contact PBAS for more information:

UFCW Local 401 – Real Canadian Superstore Benefit Trust Fund
Phone: (403) 250-3534 or toll-free at 1-866-342-3513
Email: ufcw401superstore@pbas.ca

UFCW – Canada Safeway Limited Part-Time Employee Benefit Trust Fund (Alberta)
Phone: (403) 250-3534 or toll-free at 1-866-544-9686
Email: ufcwsafewayptbenefits@pbas.ca

UFCW Local 401 Dental Care Trust Fund
PBAS Phone: (403) 250-3534 or toll-free at 1-866-961-6147
Email: Calgary@pbas.ca

Alberta Retail Meat Industry Dental Care Trust Fund
PBAS Phone: (403) 250-3534 or toll-free at 1-800-667-2816
Email: Calgary@pbas.ca

We list below some of the most frequently asked questions about WCB coverage during COVID-19.

Here are some key information resources for UFCW Local 401 members related to workers’ compensation issues:


  1. What do I do if I’m hurt at work during the COVID-19 crisis?

    The process remains the same as before the COVID-19 crisis: when you are hurt at work, you must:
    • Report your injury to your employer
    • Report your injury to WCB and
    • Seek out a medical assessment where possible.

Visit our UFCW Local 401 WCB page for all the forms and contact information you’ll need to file a WCB claim.

Given the problems the current pandemic is causing to our healthcare system, the biggest issue may be that you are limited in your ability to seek out medical treatment. We recommend that you do your very best to try and document whatever efforts you have made.


  1. What do I do if I can’t see my doctor?

The WCB requires medical documentation to confirm your diagnosis and medical restrictions. However, at this time many clinics are not seeing patients except for in emergency situations.

If you are unable to attend in person, we recommend you call your physician’s office or walk-in clinic for advice on how to manage your injury.

This could include requests for prescriptions, referrals to diagnostic centers, and/or to providing a medical report outlining medical restrictions.

We understand that access to diagnostic treatment centers (i.e. MRIs or XRays) may also be limited, but it is up to the physician to determine the urgency of such care.


  1. I have a work-related injury, but my employer is ignoring me because I can’t get in to see my doctor.

We know that, even in these unique times, work-related injuries are still going to happen. But during COVID-19, our healthcare system is under incredible strain, meaning access to medical care can be significantly restricted.

Even if you can’t see your doctor in person, please do attempt to reach them by phone. They may still be able to draft a medical document outlining your medical restrictions.

If you don’t have a family physician, we recommend you contact your local walk-in medical clinic for advice.

If you are running into these kinds of difficulties, it is important to let your WCB adjudicator or case manager know. They can assist you by contacting your employer and necessary relaying information. It is also important to ensure that these difficulties are noted in your file.


  1. How do I report my injury to the WCB?

You can report an injury to WCB online here.  You can also download and print a PDF version of the form to complete and return to the WCB by fax or mail. The WCB section on our website has these forms available for downloading and printing.

If you don’t have access to a computer, you can call the WCB directly at 1-866-922-9221. A Workers’ Report can be mailed upon request.


  1. What do I do if I get COVID-19 at work or as a result of my work?

If you suspect you caught COVID-19 at work or as a result of your work, you should follow the same reporting procedures as you would for any other work-related injury.

Detailed documentation for COVID-19 related claims is even more important because you may not have access to a healthcare facility to confirm your diagnosis.

We recommend the following key practices:

    • Keep detailed notes of when you reported your illness to your employer, and to whom you reported it.
    • When you report your claim to the WCB, be sure to include detailed information about any working conditions that may have increased your risk of exposure to COVID-19.
    • Document your symptoms and when they first appeared, as well as any contact you’ve had with healthcare workers.
    • If you are unable to see a healthcare provider for assessment of your illness, please access Alberta Health’s self-assessment tool here.
      IMPORTANT: When you complete the COVID-19 self-assessment, we strongly recommend you take a screenshot of your result. This can help document what’s been recommended to you.
      For instructions on how to take a screenshot, check here.

Why is this important? You may need as much evidence as possible to support a claim that you contracted COVID-19 while at work.

Acceptance of a WCB claim related to COVID-19 is NOT predetermined based on a particular occupation (i.e. grocery clerk, food production worker, healthcare worker, etc.)

While there are no blanket rules around this, WCB has said in this fact sheet, “A claim is likely to be accepted if a worker contracts the illness and is performing what the province deems to be an “essential service” that puts them in regular contact with the general public. A worker will also likely be covered in the event of a widespread outbreak at their place of work.”

What do I do if I have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis related to my work?

If you have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and believe you contracted the illness as a result of exposure at work, we strongly encourage you to make a Workers’ Compensation (WCB) claim so that you can have access to benefits and services for work-related accidents and illnesses. Here is a short video on how to make a WCB claim: https://youtu.be/m_GuTBTuC5Q

FURTHER INFORMATION ON WCB CLAIMS AND COVID-19

How do I know when to apply for EI, Short-term Disability Benefits, or WCB?

If you are in isolation as a precaution but DO NOT yet have a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis, you can apply for Short-Term Disability through your benefits, or through EI sick benefits.

If you have been working and tested positive for COVID-19, you should make a WCB claim. If you previously applied for STD or EI Benefits and your WCB claim is accepted, you will be asked to pay back any STD benefit you received for the same time period.


  1. How can my union help me with my WCB claim?  

We’re still supporting our members throughout COVID-19. In fact, we have heightened our services to our members during this time.

UFCW Local 401 has two dedicated WCB Advocates available to assist you with any work-related injury claim.

In any such situation, should you need assistance, UFCW Local 401 members should feel free to reach out to us as quickly as possible by calling toll free from anywhere in Alberta at 1.800.252.7975.

You can also visit our website at http://www.gounion.ca/wcb.


7. Will certain premiums, like “Hero” pay, negatively impact my WCB benefits while I’m on medically restricted hours of work?

If you are receiving WCB benefits while on medical restricted hours of work, the WCB will not include these earnings against your total earnings.

By doing this, the WCB recognizes that your ‘hero’ pay should remain yours. We are advised that they will not deduct these earnings for the period of time this benefit is available.

Alongside unions, there are many organizations and community members stepping up to help all those affected by COVID-19, whether it is because of an outbreak or because of financial hardship brought on by the pandemic.

Here are some key resources and supports available (thanks to AIMGA for these links):

  • City of Calgary food resources Link
  • List of pickup and delivery restaurants and food services in Alberta Link
  • Diversity Calgary (health information and access resources in multiple languages) Link
  • University of Calgary COVID-19 resources Link
  • Calgary Local Immigration Partnership (CLIP) Multilingual COVID-19 resources Link
  • COVID-19 resources for Edmonton residents Link
  • P is for Pandemic (kids book) Link
  1. Check with your Union Labour Relations Officer about any applicable Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) available through your employer. These programs can often help with referrals to counselling and other wellness services, and many such services are continuing to operate using best practices around social distancing.

  2. Alberta Health Services has many resources available by phone and online. These are listed directly on their site here.

    Get Help Now

    Important Phone Numbers

    COVID-19 Online Resources

    For helpful advice on handling stressful situations and ways to talk to children.

    Use the following online screening tool to help determine whether you should be tested for COVID-19.


  3. Text4Hope is a newly introduced program from the Mental Health Foundation designed to support efforts in maintaining good mental health.Text COVID19HOPE to 393939 to subscribe. You will receive daily updates intended to offer messages of hope, tips on healthy thinking, and how to best manage our moods and emotions throughout COVID-19.You can find more details here.