‘This pay increase is important recognition of the personal sacrifice that so many are making to help get Ontario safely through this crisis’
Workers in long-term care, retirement homes, community care, home care and some hospitals in Ontario will receive a $4.00 top-up to hourly wages, and those who work more than 100 hours per month will get a $250 bonus.
The hourly pay increase and lump-sum payments are effective April 24 and will be in effect for 16 weeks. About 350,000 workers providing front-line services will be eligible to receive the pandemic payment, Ontario Premier Doug Ford says in a Saturday press briefing.
“It’s our way of thanking you,” says Ford.
Workers’ union Unifor saw the development as a key step in addressing recruitment and retention issues plaguing the sector, particularly for personal support workers (PSWs) who often work multiple jobs to earn a living wage.
"For years, long before this pandemic, we have fought for the recognition and respect frontline workers deserve, particularly in the struggling long-term care and retirement home sector. The pandemic has brought much-needed attention to sectors that were in crisis already,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor national president. “While this announcement is temporary, it is clear that the value of these workers is now being recognized for the essential role they have in our communities, and how as a society, we need to do better. They deserved this premium before the pandemic and they will be deserving of it after."
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU) also recognized the announcement as a recognition of the vital and dangerous work that the workers do amid the pandemic.
"The premier has said he wants to support frontline workers, and he's keeping his word. This pay increase is important recognition of the personal sacrifice that so many are making to help get Ontario safely through this crisis. It's not for managers, it's for the real heroes: the people on the frontlines," said Warren Thomas, OPSEU president.
Meanwhile, OPSEU is also calling for the government to fire the Liquor Control Board of Ontario senior management who they call ‘elitist’ after it rebuffed a call from the union to provide pandemic recognition pay to its heroic frontline workers.
"Throughout this crisis, we've had to drag the LCBO kicking and screaming to protect its front-line workers who are keeping the place operating," said Thomas. "These LCBO bosses are drunk with power and a sense of entitlement, and they're out of touch with the workers who are getting the job done."
OPSEU is also currently in the middle of a dispute with the LCBO for an edict that warehouse workers who need to self-isolate as a result of COVID-19 should be sent home without pay.