Gateway Gazette

Continuing Support for Albertans During COVID-19

Bill 24, the COVID-19 Pandemic Response Statutes Amendment Act, proposes measures to support Albertans as the province continues to reopen.

The bill proposes amendments to 15 acts across seven ministries. The amendments are being proposed now that the state of public health emergency has ended.

The proposed amendments will allow some pandemic response efforts to continue and introduce new measures to support the safe and successful reopening of Alberta’s economy.

“Bill 24 allows us to continue to effectively respond to the COVID-19 pandemic to protect public health and ensure Albertans have access to the services and support they need as Alberta moves forward with reopening our economy.”Tyler Shandro, Minister of Health

Highlights of the bill include extending existing measures, such as:

  • Extending to August 2021 the unpaid job-protected leave specific to COVID-19, which allows employees to take leave to care for a child due to school or daycare closures or to care for an ill or self-isolating family member.
  • Providing updated guidance for operating child care programs, including increasing the maximum cohort group size from 10 to 30 staff and children, helping operators reopen safely and ensuring parents have access to child care as they return to work.
  • Allowing for remote signing and witnessing of estate and care documents through two-way video conferencing, ensuring Albertans continue to have access to justice during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Extending the maximum time for temporary layoffs related to COVID-19 from 120 days to 180 days (this change would come into force upon first reading).
  • Extending arrangements that support the Chief Medical Officer of Health Order No. 10 that allows a health-care facility to limit employees to working at one site.
  • Extending the use of emergency powers for an additional 60 days now that the state of public health emergency has ended, and extending existing ministerial orders to continue to protect the health of Albertans during relaunch.
  • Creating a new regulation-making authority to support and empower orders of the chief medical officer of health, as required. All current public health orders that have been put in place by the chief medical officer of health remain in force.

New measures include:

  • Changing requirements for temporary pandemic-related health facilities, including permitting exemptions for temporary facilities such as drive-thru COVID-19 testing sites.
  • Extending the deadline for the public release of Alberta’s annual report and financial statements to Aug. 31.
  • Ensuring Albertans retain their rights to appeal claims related to private career colleges in the courts or for the Government of Alberta to make claims related to student financial assistance.
  • Extending the grace period of expired board member appointments to the Apprenticeship and Industry Training Board from three to five months after the term expires to allow time for a safe recruitment process.

Full details of Bill 24 are available online.

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