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Labour + Industry

BC Boosts Pay for Workers on COVID-19 Frontlines

Up to $2,240 for health and social service sector workers in the pandemic.

Moira Wyton 20 May 2020 | TheTyee.ca

Moira Wyton is The Tyee’s health reporter. Follow her @moirawyton or reach her here. This reporting beat is made possible by the Local Journalism Initiative.

About 250,000 B.C. frontline workers will get a temporary $4-an-hour pay boost for their work during the pandemic, Finance Minister Carole James said Tuesday.

The program will cover eligible hospital workers, prison guards, diagnostic technicians and harm-reduction workers and others in frontline health and social services.

It will provide the pay boost — worth about $2,240 — for 16 working weeks, retroactive to March 15.

“Temporary pandemic pay recognizes all that our health and social service workers do to help keep people healthy, our communities running and deliver important care and services to the most vulnerable during this challenging time,” James said in a news release today.

The program is expected to cost $560 million, with most of the money coming from the federal government. B.C.’s contribution to the cost-shared program comes out of its previously announced $5-billion COVID-19 response plan.

Workers from a number of health and social services sectors are included in the announcement.

Essential workers in grocery stores, liquor and cannabis sales, and public transportation are not eligible for the program.

“People at the frontlines of the pandemic are working tirelessly to keep us and our loved ones healthy, while also delivering services to the most vulnerable in our community,” said James.

Eligible employees need to have worked during the 16-week period and do not need to apply for the funds, the ministry said. The money will be distributed directly through their employers.

The wage boost coincides with a planned increase of the minimum wage from $13.85 to $14.60 per hour on June 1.  [Tyee]

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