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Coronavirus: Ontario announces ‘pandemic pay’ increase for frontline workers

WATCH ABOVE: Premier Doug Ford provides an update on Ontario's response to COVID-19

The Ontario government has announced it will be providing frontline workers with a temporary “pandemic pay” raise amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

The increase will provide $4 per hour extra on top of existing wages.

Employees working over 100 hours per month will also receive lump-sum payments of $250 per month for the next four months, meaning eligible employees working an average of 40 hours a week will receive a total of $3,560 in additional wages.

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“These people put themselves in harm’s way to care for our sick and vulnerable citizens,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement.

“I am truly grateful, as are the people of Ontario, for their service, and it’s time we give something back to those who sacrifice so much day in and day out.”

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Eligible workers include staff in the following settings:

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  • Long-term care homes
  • Retirement homes
  • Emergency shelters
  • Supportive housing
  • Social services
  • Congregate care settings
  • Corrections institutions
  • Youth justice facilities
  • Some staff in hospitals, including registered nurses and auxiliary staff

A full list of eligible workplaces and workers can be found here.

The pay raise will be in effect until August 13.

When asked during a press conference Saturday why the government didn’t announce such measures earlier, Ford said they “didn’t have the capacity.”

He said the federal government played a “massive role” in coming to this.

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In a statement, Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath said, “It’s wrong that it took so long for this small wage top up to arrive.”

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Horwath also called on the province to make the additional pay retroactive to the day the province declared a state of emergency.

The SEIU Healthcare union said while news of the pay increase is welcomed, it should be retroactive and include those who are on unpaid leave due to quarantine or contracting COVID-19. The union also expressed concerns regarding the supply of personal protective equipment.

The Ontario Personal Support Worker Association, meanwhile, issued a statement thanking the premier and the minister of long-term care for the pay increase.