‘We are pleased to partner with the federal government on a program that recognizes the hard work and unique challenges front-line health-care workers face due to COVID-19’
Nova Scotia announced it will contribute $13.4 million on top of the federal government’s $80.5 million contribution to the Essential Health Care Workers Program, giving workers a bonus of up to $2,000 for a month, retroactive to March 13.
“Front-line healthcare providers are working flat out to keep Nova Scotians safe and healthy during this unprecedented time, sometimes putting their own lives at risk,” said Premier Stephen McNeil. “We are pleased to partner with the federal government on a program that recognizes the hard work and unique challenges front-line health-care workers face due to COVID-19.”
It covers eligible employees at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, IWK Health Centre and in long-term care, home care and in-home support and emergency health services as well as employees who volunteered to be redeployed to work at a facility experiencing a COVID-19 outbreak.
The program will apply to full-time, part-time and casual workers as well as cleaning staff. Eligible health-care employees who work during the pandemic can receive the benefit, and employees will need to work during all four months to receive the maximum $2,000. Those who work during the four months but are placed in isolation, quarantine or COVID-19 sick leave are also eligible.
Overall, the program is expected to benefit up to 43,000 health-care workers in the province.
The Department of Health and Wellness and its partners will deliver the money.
Workers’ union Unifor welcomed the program from both the federal and the Nova Scotia governments.
"The tireless work and efforts of frontline health care workers during the COVID-19 pandemic must be recognized," said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president, on Thursday. "Today's announcement may be temporary, but the value of these workers to the public is everlasting. I have said this before and I will say it again these workers deserved this premium before the pandemic and they will be deserving of it after.”
On Thursday, Trudeau said that Canada has "received millions upon millions of items of PPE from around the world”, but “there have been a small number that have been not to the levels that Canadians expected.”
The federal government will continue to work to deliver PPE that meet Canadian standards to front-line workers, he said.
Unions have been calling for governments to look into the safety concerns of workers at Cargill in Alberta and long-term care homes in Ontario.