Critical Worker Benefits

  • UX
  • Web
  • Digital Government

The Critical Worker Benefit is an intuitive web application that enables one-time payments to support Alberta’s critical healthcare workers through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Project Summary

Alberta Health sets the policy and direction needed to achieve a sustainable and accountable health system. Their goal? Promote and protect the health of Albertans. When COVID-19 entered Alberta. The Ministry of Health had to act quickly to establish a payment management system to support the critical workers that were providing support to their communities.

In just two weeks, we created a powerful online system that allows Alberta’s critical health workers and practitioners to apply for COVID-19 benefit funding and Alberta Health staff to process applications.

This application supports two programs. The first focuses on private health practitioners and organizations and the second focuses on public healthcare workers.

The Critical Worker Benefit program is a one-time payment of $1,200 for public health care workers to lessen the emotional and physical strain COVID-19 has had on them and their families.

The Critical Operator Benefit  supports the processing of payments to healthcare practitioners and private organizations across Alberta whose businesses and employees have been impacted by COVID-19. 

The Critical Worker and Operator Benefit application addresses both of these user groups and contains an applicant and reviewer interface known as the Operator Portal and Admin Portal respectively

The Challenge

Critical workers have played an integral role in keeping communities safe during the pandemic. More often than not, this means a heightened risk of exposure and feelings of isolation, stress, and anxiety

Challenges faced by front line workers include a lack of resources to do their jobs, fear about their own health, guilt, shame, grief, exhaustion and a lack of guidance and training to navigate their changing roles.

– Dr. Ashcroft, University of Toronto

The Government of Alberta recognized this challenge and set out to build a solution that would show support and give back to the people who needed it most. The Alberta Government needed an efficient and secure system to handle COVID-19 benefit funding and payment processing for critical health workers during the pandemic. 

From this, the Critical Worker and Operator Benefit project was born.

The Solution

Launched in February 2021, this payment management system provides one-time $1,200 payments to over one hundred thousand healthcare workers who deliver critical services or support medical supply chains.

Through the benefit, the Government of Alberta aims to distribute up to $465 million in funding to eligible workers in two phases – outlined below. This includes up to $118 million in provincial funds, in addition to $347 million from the federal government’s benefits program for low-wage critical workers.

Total Critical Worker Benefit Funding: $465 Million


The Critical Worker and Operator Benefit application enables the Government of Alberta to distribute funds to eligible employees and practitioners in a streamlined, efficient, and secure process. With a proven record for digital government modernization, our team launched the initial phase in just in just two weeks.

At a high-level, the goals of the application are to:

"It was a really great experience contributing to such an impactful project that would help some of those hit hardest by COVID-19."

Zac Broitman

Business Analyst

"It was a really great experience contributing to such an impactful project that would help some of those hit hardest by COVID-19."

Zac Broitman

Business Analyst

The Impact

All together, these two programs distributed:

Critical Worker Benefit

million dollars




health sector employees

Distributed to healthcare workers through public healthcare organizations across Alberta. This benefit placed crucial funds in the pockets of healthcare workers that have been working hard to keep communities safe.

group collaboration icon in red

Critical Operator Benefit

million dollars




eligible operators

Distributed to practitioners and private healthcare organizations whose businesses have been negatively impacted by COVID-19. This fund helped keep healthcare operations open by reducing the financial burden of the pandemic.

Discovery & Design

FreshWorks worked collaboratively with Alberta Health to ensure agile principles were implemented at every stage of this digital government modernization project. Due to rapid policy changes and the urgency of these policies, our discovery phase moved in parallel with the design and development phases. 

Tight timelines meant we were building and launching features from the very first day. This meant the designs and actual code would have to be revised if requirements were updated. So prioritizing a user-centred design process was even more critical. It was important that every worker would have a seamless, intuitive experience to apply and receive the grant they are eligible for.


In order to build a payment management system that was intuitive and solved these challenges effectively, our team prioritized identifying requirements with the client and major stakeholders. We interviewed program area representatives who worked as assessment agents to determine needs and support their workflow.

Our teams ran daily morning and afternoon check-ins with the program area, and engaged in coworking and collaboration at every stage of the project.

Project Wireframe

Wireframes are a visual design draft used to represent the structure of information and demonstrate the basic functionalities. By visualizing the content, we were able to gather feedback and make updates quickly. This process helped ensure the digital government benefit funding application delivered the full expected value to users. 

Every user deserves an accessible, seamless experience.

Digital government aims to provide inclusive, and accessible services and this application did just that. Our design team ensured accessibility requirements were met, such as proper font colour and text size. For example, we had to make sure the payment status for approved, in process, and denied was not pastel coloured so they could be read on all different types of screens. Our team ensured the site was compliant with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines and each web component was readable on all screens. 

The Features

There are two portals within the application the operator portal and the admin portal. Each of these portals has different functionality and features contained in it. 

multiplatform gadgets icon in red  Operator Portal Features

Quick Deployment Using IBM App ID

Account authentication is managed through IBM’s App ID system. This system is already established in the Government of Alberta, which allowed for easy security clearance and quick development.

Secure Organization Data Storage

Operators can enter information on their organization and submit their benefits. Organization information and employee data are all securely stored within the application. 

End-to-end Workflow Optimization

Operators can receive action items from Assessment staff on their application status. Approved applications will require a grant agreement to be signed by the Operator, and the portal will allow them to download and upload the document for signing. The Critical Worker Benefit also requires operators to confirm how many of their employees they paid with the allocated funding. The operator portal will automatically alert them to fill this out once their application is set as paid.

computer icon in red Admin Portal Features 

Streamlined and Centralized Access to Data

Agents are able to see all the corresponding information, including benefit status, organization name, agent assignment, and more. Agents can hit the view button to pull up all organization details.

Agents can click actions, assign themselves, and view organizational information including banking details and void cheques. Everything is in one spot – agents don’t need to spend time searching through the application to find the details they need.

Simplified Application Processing

For the operator benefit applications, agents are able to approve each facility per category.

For the critical worker benefit applications, agents can approve and deny per employee. Agents are also able to leave a denied reason to reduce misunderstanding and inefficiency.

Automatic Grant Generation

Before a benefit can be paid, the Government of Alberta needs to have a grant agreement document signed by both a representative from the Government of Alberta and the operator receiving funding. Once an application is reviewed and finalized, the necessary documents will be automatically generated by the system. The task feature guides assessment staff seamlessly through each step needed to complete the grant agreement. The Operator is also emailed when it is their time to sign to take action.

Efficient Payment Grouping and Processing

Once an application’s grant agreement is finalized and ready for payment, the payments feature will group all applications that are ready for payment and allow the assessor to create a payment batch with a selection of the applications. Payment batches are then used to generate the necessary files that are sent to the Government of Alberta’s 1GX (One Government eXperience) payment system – a new suite of online business applications that creates one experience for suppliers of goods and services. This system tracks the payment status of each application.


Our development team has been at the forefront of building user-centered applications since 2014 and has built dozens of applications with these focuses:



The backend of the Critical Workers Benefit application was built using NestJS, which provides a quick and efficient development process that is highly scalable and easy to maintain.

Ease of Use

The frontend was built using React, a JavaScript framework that makes the development and UI process intuitive and highly adoptable. 

The app utilizes IBM DB2 as an underlying database, hosted on IBM cloud. Benefits of IBM Cloud include reduced costs, easy operability, scalability, agility, and increased speed. It houses the data needed for the application to work seamlessly.

Self Healing & Portability 

Kubernetes was a container orchestration platform used to deploy and manage the application. Failed containers can easily be replaced with new healthy containers, and it can be used on a variety of different infrastructures – a public cloud, a private cloud, or on a premises server.

Learn More

What's Next?

The Critical Workers Benefit project delivers aid and recognizes Alberta’s critical workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are very fortunate to have worked on an impactful project that will streamline benefit distribution throughout the province during a time of unprecedented uncertainty and change. We look forward to our continued partnership with Alberta Health with the vision to improve access to accessible, inclusive citizen services throughout the province.

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