The Ontario government has expanded coronavirus-related “pandemic pay” to additional health care sector workers, including paramedics and public health nurses.
The announcement comes days after Premier Doug Ford announced various frontline workers would receive an extra $4 per hour as of Friday. Also, those working more than 100 hours per month will receive $250 monthly lump-sum payments until mid-August.
The initial list of eligible employees included those who work at long-term care homes, shelters, social services, jails and some staff in hospitals.
However, there were calls from some unions to expand that list to cover other frontline workers. On Tuesday, the Ontario government confirmed the list was being expanded.
“Today, Ontario provided a clarification that this pandemic pay applies to respiratory therapists, mental health and addictions workers in hospitals and congregate care settings, public health nurses and paramedics,” Anna Miller, a spokesperson for Ontario’s Ministry of Health, told Global News in a statement Monday evening.
“This clarification comes in addition to those frontline workers announced previously. This change was made to recognize and thank these frontline workers for putting their health and safety at risk to help our most vulnerable.”
Warren “Smokey” Thomas, president of the Ontario Public Service Employees Union, issued a statement Monday evening in response to the announcement. He said his office was among those pushing for the original list to be expanded.
“While today’s expansion is not everything we asked for, I applaud the government for listening and moving the yardsticks,” he wrote.
There were also appeals over the weekend to make the pay increase retroactive to when the emergency declaration began and renewed pleas for an increased supply in personal protective equipment.