NASA continues to monitor the COVID-19 situation and its impacts on University of Alberta support staff, and will share critical information with members as it becomes available.
Below is a roundup of important information and updates, which we will update regularly.
Return to Work and Safety on Campus
Work for most university staff must continue remotely to minimize the number of people on campuses to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and allow the university to manage the health and safety of those who need to be working in person with the limited resources we have available.
The only exceptions are:
- approved essential services on campuses
- approved research activities that cannot be conducted remotely
- approved in-person teaching exceptions
- approved limited work exceptions on campus (e.g., access to equipment or inadequate work space at home)
Edmonton city council has passed a temporary bylaw making face masks mandatory in all indoor public spaces starting Saturday, August 1. The University of Alberta's directive on personal protective equipment (PPE) states that "masks must be worn by all staff in all indoor common areas or when engaged in activities that risk a violation of the 2m physical distancing requirement. Working within 2m (with a mask) must be kept to the minimum necessary to perform the task." For more information, you can read the full directive on PPE or the university's Wearing Masks on Campus: What You Need to Know blog post.
Supply Management Services (SMS) has both reuseable cloth masks and disposable masks available for purchase via SMS Supplies Order Form.
Financial Support Resources
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unprecedented impact on the economy. In response, the federal and provincial governments have put in place a number of financial support programs for impacted workers. We strongly encourage you to explore these programs regardless of your financial situation. Below are links to the government assistance programs we are aware of at the time of this communication:
Likely the most important support for people whose employment has been impacted by COVID-19 is the federal government's Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
The online application portal for CERB opened on April 6, 2020. If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.
The benefit will be available to workers:
- Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
- Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;
- Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.
You can learn more about the CERB on the government's FAQ page.
In addition, for other EI benefits, including maternity, parental, caregiving, fishing and worksharing, you should also continue to apply.
- You may be eligible for increases to the Canada Child Benefit and to the GST/HST credit. More details will be forthcoming on both, however, we do know that the increase to the GST/HST credit will be to a maximum of $300 per adult and $150 per child per month and the top-up to the Child Benefit will be to a maximum of $300 per child per month.
- The federal government is providing a six-month, interest-free moratorium on all Canada Student Loan repayments.
- Mortgage loan holders have been given permission to offer deferrals on mortgage payments.
In Alberta, residential customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days, regardless of the service provider.
The provincial government has also implemented certain protections for renters:
- Tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1.
- Rents cannot increase while Alberta’s state of public health emergency remains in effect.
- Effective April 1, late fees cannot be applied to late rent payments for the next three months.
- Effective April 1, landlords and tenants need to work together to develop payment plans while the state of public health emergency is in effect.
General COVID-19 Information
We encourage you to regularly check the COVID-19 information pages from the University of Alberta, Government of Alberta, and Government of Canada for important updates and information about supports for people impacted by the pandemic.
Remember, to protect yourself and others:
- practice physical distancing
- stay home and away from others if sick or in isolation
- wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow
- avoid touching your face with unwashed hands
If you have symptoms, like a dry cough, fever, fatigue or difficulty breathing:
- stay home - do not go to an ER or clinic
- take the COVID-19 self-assessment
- call Health Link 811 for instructions and testing
COVID-19 Information for University of Alberta Staff
The University has up-to-date information for the U of A community on its COVID-19 information page.
NASA continues to advocate for continuance of pay and benefits for all university staff during this crisis. Here is the latest Employee Leave and Pay Guidelines (as of March 19, 2020) we have received from university administration. Contact your LRO if you have any questions about your individual situation.
If you are able to work remotely, be sure to reference the Going Remote page for tips and resources.
This is a very uncertain and disruptive time, and you may be experiencing heightened anxiety or stress. The University of Alberta has numerous resources available if you, or someone you know, is struggling or needs support:
- Injury & illness information for employees
- Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)
- On-campus health and wellness resources
- Off-campus resources
NASA Statements and Updates
NASA continues to advocate to ensure that the response to the COVID-19 emergency does not disproportionately impact university support staff. We are particularly concerned that university administration seems to be committed to proceeding with planned layoffs stemming from the provincial government's February 27 Budget 2020, despite the unprecedented changes to the provincial economy that have occurred since the budget was tabled.
Our priority message to the university right now is that any planned layoffs must be put on hold for the duration of the COVID-19 crisis, and we will continue to deliver that message to university leadership.
Read the media release "Government inflexibility on budget will jeopardize U of A’s COVID‑19 response and long-term prospects, say campus associations" (March 26, 2020)
Read the joint letter against cuts tabled at Board of Governors' meeting (March 26, 2020)
Read the joint letter from campus associations demanding no additional layoffs during COVID-19 emergency (March 23, 2020)
Read NASA's Open Letter to President Turpin and BOG Chair Chisholm (March 17, 2020)
Read the NASA Statement on COVID-19 and the University of Alberta (March 16, 2020)
Read the NASA's Statement on Budget 2020 (March 2, 2020)
A reminder that based on recommendations from public health officials, NASA has made the decision to close its office indefinitely in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. NASA operations will continue as normal, and NASA's office and labour relations staff will be working remotely from home. You will still be able to reach them by phone or email if you are in need of support.