Kenney says he's open to paid leave for COVID vaccinations

Kenney said he would need the time to consult with officials to make sure there wouldn’t be any unintended consequences.

Ashley Joannou April 21, 2021

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley is proposing Alberta follow the lead of B.C. and Saskatchewan and give workers three hours of paid leave to get vaccinated. NDP Supplied

Premier Jason Kenney said Tuesday he will decide in the next 24 hours whether to give workers three paid hours to get themselves vaccinated against COVID-19 as requested by the NDP.

In a rare amicable exchange in the legislature, Kenney said he was open to the idea but would need the time to consult with officials to make sure there wouldn’t be any unintended consequences.

“I would implore all employers, I think it’s clearly in their interests to ensure that their workforce is vaccinated, and they shouldn’t have to be compelled to legislation,” he said.

“But if there are some employers who are not doing the right thing and providing that time for vaccination as necessary, I would certainly be open to consider working with the leader of the opposition on this.”

Prior to question period NDP Leader Rachel Notley said her party was prepared to waive the rules and pass whatever procedural amendments are required to to push legislation, which would also cover helping family members get vaccinated, through by Thursday, before MLAs take a week-long break to be in their constituencies.

“That would mean every eligible Albertan could seek out a vaccine without worrying about losing pay during these difficult times,” she told reporters.

Kenney did not commit to that timeline, saying only that officials would do their best to work with the opposition.

The British Columbia government introduced amendments to the Employment Standards Act that on Monday which, if passed, will provide workers there with up to three hours of paid leave to get each dose of their COVID-19 vaccine.

Notley said that legislation is being supported by both labour groups and business representatives in British Columbia.

Similar legislation was passed last month in Saskatchewan.

“We’ve got a New Democratic government to the to the west of us and a Conservative government to the east of us who have both seen fit to do it,” she said.

“We have clear evidence that there is a problem with the vaccine hesitancy in Alberta, and this would assist in getting more people vaccinated quicker.”

Starting on Tuesday the government expanded the age of eligibility for the AstaZeneca vaccine to those as young as 40 after reports of low turnout of older people interested in getting the shot.

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