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Pandemic pay premium has not made it to workers, Ontario government says

The government said it has provided written funding commitments to employers, which will be followed by the money.
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Stock photo.

A pandemic pay premium promised to approximately 375,000 frontline health-care workers has not yet been paid out, the Ontario government said Monday, stressing that the cash is coming soon.

A spokeswoman for Health Minister Christine Elliott said the initiative is the largest of its kind in Canada and the funding will flow in "very short order" but did not provide a specific date.

The government said it has provided written funding commitments to employers, which will be followed by the money.

"We are committed to expediting the work required to get this money onto the paycheques of the critical workers across the province," Hayley Chazan said in a statement.  

Premier Doug Ford announced the premium in late April, calling it a way of recognizing the sacrifices essential workers make as they fight the spread of COVID-19.

It included a $4 hourly raise over the next four months and a monthly bonus of $250 if they work more than 100 hours in a month.

But unions representing hospital workers have said not everyone in the facilities are included, leading to low morale.

The bonus was to be offered to staff at long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, home and community care providers and some staff in hospitals.

The program was later expanded to include more workers such as public health nurses and paramedics.

The unions had called on the government to cover all hospital workers and not pick and choose between professions.

The Ontario Hospital Association has said it would also like to see all hospital workers receive the pay premium.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath has said the payments should be retroactive to March 11, when COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 15, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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