Ontario COVID Emergency Wage Enhancement must include all front-line health care workers

October 1, 2020

TORONTO – Unifor appreciates the recognition of personal support workers in the temporary wage enhancement but demands the Ontario government not exclude all other frontline workers.

“Personal support workers absolutely deserve this recognition, but so do the other health care workers who show up every single day,” said Unifor President Jerry Dias. “It takes a team of workers like cleaners who stop the spread of disease, dietary workers who ensure proper nutrition, rehabilitation workers who keep people mobile, nurses and countless others who contribute to the care and wellbeing of patients and residents. Considering that many of these workers have had to self-isolate for weeks to protect their families, unable to see their own children, and today they are being told they are ineligible for the temporary wage enhancement.”

The Ontario Government will immediately implement a $3.00 wage increases for Personal Support Workers (PSWs) in Long Term Care and Community Care sector  which could extend till March 2021. PSWs in hospitals will receive a $2.00 per hour increase.

All other essential frontline health care workers have been arbitrarily excluded, as have personal support workers in the retirement home sector.

“Today’s announcement is problematic in many ways, and shows just how out of touch Doug Ford is with the health care sector,” said Katha Fortier, Assistant to Unifor National President and lead Unifor health care negotiator. “We stressed to the government that PSWs work as part of a team and excluding some members of the  team is insulting and divisive, as is excluding retirement home workers who have seen devastating and tragic COVID-19 outbreaks.”

Unifor will continue to meet and lobby the government to rethink this policy and fill these eligibility gaps to ensure that no front-line health care workers are left out from the COVID Emergency Wage benefit and pay improvements become permanent.

Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector and represents 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.

Information about the union’s response to the pandemic, as well as resources for members can be found at unifor.org/COVID19.