Federal government working with provinces to increase pay for essential workers


Published May 7, 2020 at 4:58 pm


At a May 7 press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government has reached–or is about to reach–agreements with the provinces and territories to top up pay for essential workers.

The announcement follows Trudeau’s earlier promise–prompted by the deaths of about 4,200 residents in long-term care homes–to boost pay for personal support workers and other front-line health workers in long-term care facilities who earn less than $2,500 per month.

Today (May 7), Trudeau said the federal government has reached a $4 billion agreement with all the provinces and territories and is in the process of finalizing the details. 

Adding that provinces and territories are facing different circumstances and taking different approaches, Trudeau said the federal government will provide three-quarters–or $3 billion– in funding to support essential workers. 

The provinces and territories will be responsible for providing the rest of the funding, and they will also determine who will receive the funding and how much they’ll ultimately get. 

“This is a joint effort. All the premiers agree that we must support our essential workers. I thank premiers for our continued Team Canada approach,” Trudeau said. 

“If you’re risking your health to keep this country moving and you receive a minimum wage, you deserve to earn more.” 

Some provinces have already moved to provide support for front-line workers.

Quebec moved to top up essential workers’ pay even before Trudeau’s offer, announcing a $4-per-hour pay hike for workers in private long-term care homes, as well as a $24.28 per hour salary to attract new workers to fill in as attendants at the facilities.

Ontario, with financial support from Ottawa, has announced a $4-per-hour increase for front-line workers at long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, group homes, correctional institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as for those providing home and community care and some hospital staff.

As well, Ontario’s front-line employees who work more than 100 hours a month will receive bonus payments of $250 per month for four months.

It is not yet clear how much more pay essential workers across all sectors will receive, as that will be decided by individual provinces and territories.

At the press conference, Trudeau told reporters that more testing needs to be done before Canada’s economy can reopen more fulsomely. 

He said the federal government is continuing to work with provinces and territories to ramp up testing as much as possible.

With files from The Canadian Press

Cover photo courtesy of The Canadian Press

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