Ford pushes em­ploy­ers to de­liver pan­demic pay

Ottawa Citizen - - City - TAY­LOR BLEWETT

At his daily news con­fer­ence, On­tario Premier Doug Ford urged em­ploy­ers who haven’t done so to “start dish­ing out” a tem­po­rary pan­demic pay bump more than three months after his gov­ern­ment first an­nounced the pro­gram, the roll­out of which has proven frus­trat­ing for many front­line work­ers.

The prov­ince has re­leased funds to more than 2,000 em­ploy­ers across On­tario, Ford said. The pan­demic pay pe­riod will ap­ply retroac­tively to April 24 and last un­til Aug. 13, pay­ing el­i­gi­ble work­ers an ex­tra $4 an hour with the po­ten­tial for ad­di­tional lump-sump pay­ments.

“We got you the money, start dish­ing it out. These peo­ple are in need of it,” Ford said to em­ploy­ers.

Work­places el­i­gi­ble for pan­demic pay in­clude long-term care and re­tire­ment homes, home and com­mu­nity care set­tings, emer­gency shel­ters and cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties.

Ford sin­gled out hos­pi­tals, telling them to “get your act to­gether” be­fore he thanked institutio­ns that have made the ad­di­tional ex­tra pay avail­able to their staff.

“This has taken way, way too long. Let’s get the money into the peo­ple’s pock­ets. That’s the rea­son we put it out there,” Ford said.

While the On­tario gov­ern­ment an­nounced the pan­demic pay pro­gram at the end of April, it wasn’t un­til June that it was pre­pared to roll out fund­ing, sec­tor-by-sec­tor, according to a provin­cial gov­ern­ment web­page. Health-care em­ploy­ers were sup­posed to be the last to start re­ceiv­ing the funds, with the roll­out sched­uled to be­gin the week of June 29.

Who is el­i­gi­ble for the tem­po­rary pay bump has been an on­go­ing con­tro­versy. After its ini­tial an­nounce­ment, the prov­ince had to ex­pand the pro­gram to in­clude more work­ers, such as paramedics and res­pi­ra­tory ther­a­pists. But some front­line oc­cu­pa­tions re­main in­el­i­gi­ble, a sore spot for many. In mid-June, a group of On­tario labour unions re­leased a state­ment call­ing pan­demic pay a “bun­gled” pro­gram due the prov­ince’s de­layed roll­out and the many work­ers ex­cluded.

On­tario re­ported 91 new cases of COVID -19 and four ad­di­tional deaths on Tues­day, the second day in a row that new in­fec­tions have num­bered fewer than 100. Mon­day saw 88 new cases across the prov­ince, while more than 42,000 COVID -19 tests were pro­cessed in the last two days.

Ot­tawa re­ported just one new case of COVID-19 on Tues­day and no new deaths. It was the only health unit re­gion in Eastern On­tario to re­port any new cases. tblewett@postmedia.com

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