Front-line workers still waiting for pandemic pay
It’s been more than a month since the Provincial Government promised "pandemic pay” for thousands of front-line workers, yet many say they’re still waiting.
Over 375,000 employees in Ontario qualify for the $4 dollar an hour top up, but Personal Support Workers like Alexandra Gillett-Baxter say it hasn’t landed on her pay cheque.
“Some folks are frustrated, we've had a lot on our plate,"she said.
Gillett-Baxter is among thousands of PSW’s who have been putting their own health at risk, while caring for others.
Fellow PSW Emily Coulter says this year has been extra challenging on workers like her due to COVID-19 concerns. She's banking on the pandemic pay to ease what’s been a stressful situation.
“It would be extra money for bills, food, insurance and day to day living,”said Coulter.
In a statement to CTV News, Sebastian Skamski, the Press Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, says the money is on its way.
“We are moving the funds to employers as quickly as possible and are expediting the work required to get this money into the paycheques of the critical workers across the province,”he said.
Skamski adds that in the first week of June, ministries will start providing written funding commitments to employer partners that receive direct government funding, as well as service delivery managers, followed quickly by the flow of money.
Ontario was one of the first provinces to roll out the pandemic pay program, which is the largest of its kind in the country.
This pay will be provided retroactively for work performed from April 24 to August 13 of this year.
Workers like Nurses, Long-Term Care Home Employees, Correctional Officers and PSW’s will receive the pay bump along with four monthly lump-sum payments.
Deborah Simon, CEO for the Ontario Community Support Association, says this is welcomed news for PSW’s, who are among some of the lowest paid providers in the health care sector.
"The starting rate for a personal support worker is $16.50 an hour,"she said.
The Province says the funding will go directly onto the pay cheques of all eligible employees.
PSW Alexandra Gillett-Baxter says the additional pay can’t come soon enough, and believes the increase will help attract more people to an industry suffering employee shortages.
“Giving people a top up like this will help encourage more people to come help since we need more hands on the job,”she said.