Albertans across the province are now eligible for a one-time self-isolation support payment if they have to quarantine in a hotel, away from home, due to COVID-19.
The government announced Monday the incentive — which up until now, was only available to those living in Calgary and Edmonton — was being expanded to anyone living in the province, including First Nations members living on and off reserves, and those on Metis settlements.
The program offers $625 to anyone who has to isolate in a designated hotel because they can’t do so at home upon the completion of their isolation period. The hotel stay and provided food are free of charge to those referred to the service by Alberta Health Services.
“Expanding the isolation benefit will help more Albertans keep themselves and their families safe,” Municipal Affairs Minister Ric McIver said.
Chief Ivan Sawan of the Loon River First Nation celebrated the expansion as a “tremendous effort from the province to be able to initiate come kind of an incentive while our people are in isolation or have tested positive.”
“It’s going to alleviate the pressures… in regards to finances and in our communities and within our families,” Sawan said.
Indigenous Relations Minister Rick Wilson said this program is beneficial to those living on Metis settlements or who are members of First Nations, as those individuals are often living in multi-generational households, making it harder for them to self-isolate in their own home.
“We’ve seen this right across Alberta,” Wilson said, adding that chiefs have been doing a great job taking care of their community members.
“But they do need this little extra help and this is going to make a big difference.”
Sawan said overcrowding in homes has been a significant challenge amid the pandemic, with some houses being home of upwards of 10-15 people at a time.
“That’s been the primary reason why [there’s been a] spike of the COVID-19 within the First Nations communities,” he said.
The government is also providing individuals safe travel to a COVID-19 assessment centre if they need it.
Alberta launched COVID-19 care teams in December, aimed at getting more information out to those living in more at-risk communities identified in the province, through various outreach measures and in many different languages.
It also aimed to raise awareness about the hotel isolation program, which up until then had only been taken advantage of a few dozen times.
McIver said since then, more than 850 Albertans have used the hotel option to self-isolate.
Alberta’s COVID-19 case numbers have been declining in recent weeks, with 461 cases reported on Sunday.
The province announced Friday that as a result, more restrictions are being lifted as of Feb. 8, including in-person dining at restaurants and bars, and gyms being allowed to reopen for one-on-one instruction.View link »