Casinos in Alberta closed in mid-March after premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public emergency as part of efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
The province’s state of emergency declares that any gathering larger than 50 people must be cancelled.
Alberta joins other provinces, including British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba, in moving the close its casinos during the pandemic.
On 16 March, the B.C. Lottery Corporation stated that casinos, community gaming centres and bingo halls in British Columbia will only re-open when it “receives government direction that it is safe and appropriate to do”. Meanwhile, Manitoba Government and General Employees’ Union president Michelle Gawronsky said the province should step in and help workers at the government-run casinos. The union represents around 260 casino employees, including cooks and servers.
“We are calling on the province to partner with the federal government to support workers and thereby support the entire provincial and national economy,” she stated. Workers at casinos in Winnipeg had been told that would only be paid until the end of March but could face temporary layoffs in April.
“Employers should redeploy where possible”, Gawronsky argued, adding that a fund should be set up to top up employment insurance for affected workers.