Frontline workers frustrated they don't qualify for pandemic pay
KITCHENER -- Not all frontline workers are eligible for the province’s temporary wage increase.
Premier Doug Ford announced Saturday a $4 an hour pay increase for certain workers over the next 16 weeks, including those who work in healthcare, social services and correctional buildings.
But some jobs have been left off the list.
Taryn Christopher is a registered respiratory therapist and works in the ICU at Guelph General Hospital.
“Running the ventilators, we are responsible for maintaining the breathing tubes,” she says.
She was disappointed to find out she didn’t qualify for pandemic pay.
The new pay program includes a $250 lump sum for those who more than 100 hours a month.
Christopher says she’s averaging up to 50 hours a week.
“Everyone has been talking about the need for more ventilators and trying to get more ventilators to hospitals. Unfortunately those ventilators are not going to be able to run without a respiratory therapist.”
Paramedics, like Jason Fraser, are also not getting a pay increase.
“We are going out there, entering people’s homes, going into long-term care facilities,” he says. “It’s not necessarily about the money. It’s more about the recognition and recognizing the valuable work that we as paramedics do each and every day.”
Fraser says he never knows what he’s going to encounter on the job. Region of Waterloo Paramedics has tweeted multiple times that when calling 911, residents need to disclose COVID-19 symptoms. However CUPE, the union that represents paramedics and dispatchers, says the majority of paramedic patients are coming in with a positive screening.
“They still haven’t been diagnosed but they’re showing those signs and symptoms,” explains Fraser. “The risk is increasing each and every day that we go into work.”
Approximately 350,000 workers are eligible for pandemic pay, including registered nurses, housekeepers and administrative staff.
Those who have been left off the list are hoping the province will reconsider.