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School division seeks COVID-19 indemnity protection

Chinook’s Edge School Division board chair says move intended to help prevent future spike in insurance rate hikes
MVT stock Chinook's Edge building front
File photo/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL - Chinook’s Edge School Division (CDSD) is sending a letter to Alberta Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu requesting that the government of Alberta provide indemnity to the division against litigation related to COVID-19.

Indemnity extends civil liability protection to the organization covered.

Board of trustees chair Holly Bilton says the move is being made to help prevent a future spike in insurance rate hikes.

The province’s new COVID-19 Related Measures Act (Bill 70) provides indemnity for groups such as Alberta Health Service and long-term care facilities retroactive to March 1, 2020. 

The protection is specific to exposure or transmission of COVID-19 and applies to those acting in good faith, following COVID-19 public health orders, guidance and legislation.

CESD is asking to be included in the legislation’s indemnity coverage.

“Our goal is to be treated similarly to those other groups, that the division would be indemnified,” Bilton told The Albertan. “The goal of that is to keep more money in the classroom and not on paying higher insurance rates.”

The division’s insurance provider has indicated “they have no doubt that premium rates will rise due to COVID-19 issues and they have actually told us in a meeting that we had with them that indemnity would help avoid insurance premium rate increases,” she said.

“They have suggested that this could be key and that indemnity from the province would help.”

During its recent regularly scheduled board meeting, CESD trustees passed a motion instructing administration to prepare and send the letter to Justice Minister Madu. The letter itself is not being made public.

The division is not currently facing any COVID-19 related lawsuits, said Bilton.

“I’m hoping there won’t be COVID-19 litigation issues in the future,” she said. “That being said, I want to keep our premiums rates to a minimum. I think if we have indemnification we have that ability.”

CESD is also planning to contact other school divisions in the province to elicit support for the call for indemnity, she said.

There are 12,000 students in the Innisfail-headquartered CESD.

Dan Singleton

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