It’s been nearly two weeks since Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced various front-line workers would receive an extra $4 per hour for their contributions to fighting COVID-19.
A few days after the initial announcement on April 25, the province expanded the “pandemic pay” to additional health-care sector workers, including paramedics and public health nurses.
An announcement that rubbed a few medical professionals the wrong way.
“All our members are the ones that are performing all of the diagnostic procedures and treatments on all the COVID-infected or presumed infected patients across the province,” said Greg Toffner, the president and CEO of the Ontario Association of Medical Radiation Sciences.
Toffner says he represents 375 Kingston Medical Radiation Technologists (MRTs) and Diagnostic Medical Sonographers (DMSs) and around 8,000 across the province, many of whom he says are on the front lines of this pandemic and have been neglected by the Ontario government.
“It is incomprehensible and irresponsible of this government not to recognize the service the MRTs and DMSs are providing,” Toffner said. “They are risking theirs and their families’ life so they angry and confused.”
Toffner says his men and women working in the hospitals wear full PPE and are working next to nurses and others who are receiving the pandemic pay. Because of this, he says this has created divisions within the workplace.
“We have registered nurses who work side by side with MRTs, and they’re involved in these, the very same procedures, and yet they’re recognized, and our MRT teams aren’t,” said Toffner via skype from Toronto.
The initial list of eligible employees included those who work at long-term care homes, shelters, social services, jails and some staff in hospitals but has since added public health nurses and paramedics.
A full list of eligible workplaces and workers can be found here.
Global News asked the Ministry of Health on Tuesday why MRTs and DMSs were not included and if they will be in eventually. The MOH responded with, “as you know, Ontario provided clarification that pandemic pay applies to respiratory therapists, mental health and addictions workers in hospitals and congregate care settings, public health nurses and paramedics.”
The additions are on top of the initial list of front-line staff.
Toffner says, despite his efforts, the Ontario government has yet to speak on this matter directly, saying OAMRS calls on Premier Ford and Deputy Premier Elliott to rectify it as soon as possible.
“Give me a call, and maybe we can have a conversation about it so that maybe I can clarify it for them so they can have a better understanding of what we do,” said Toffner.
The pay raise will be in effect until Aug. 13.