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Paramedics will now be among those who will receive temporary "pandemic pay" along with a number of different front-line workers, according to CTV News.
Premier Doug Ford announced that paramedics are among the 350,000 healthcare workers in Ontario who will receive the additional $4 an hour raise for the next 16 weeks as part of recognition for their work during the COVID-19 pandemic. They will also receive a monthly sum of $250 for the next four months as well.
The pandemic pay will give the average front line health care worker who is working 40 hours a week an additional $3,560 over the course of the next four months, estimates Peter Bethlenfalvy, Treasury Board President.
The announcement that Ford's administration has agreed to expand the list of workers who are eligible came on Tuesday night. Paramedics, respiratory therapists, public health nurses and all addictions and mental health workers and anyone who serves a similar function while working in congregate settings such as acute-care hospitals have been added to the list as well, according to a statement presented by the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).
“As soon as the original plan was made public, my office was in touch with government officials lobbying hard for additions to the eligibility list and while today’s expansion is not everything we asked for, I applaud the government for listening and moving the yardsticks,” OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas said in the statement. “We will continue to work to ensure all employers remain focused on ensuring front-line workers’ jobs are protected and that they have the requisite safety equipment."
Prior to the expansion of "pandemic pay" the list included all nurses in hospitals and long-term care facilities, some mental health and addictions employees, certain social workers, all support staff in hospitals, workers in long-term care homes correctional facilities staff and employees in most shelters.
“We just want to focus on the 350,000 people that have direct contact with COVID patients. Those people, and I have said it before, they are underpaid. This is just a small token of our appreciation that we can show,” Ford said on Tuesday afternoon. “We are so, so grateful for the hard work that the healthcare workers and other people involved in taking care of COVID patients are doing. They are going in there day after day after day even though they are exhausted and putting their lives in jeopardy.”