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Ontario pledges $4 an hour 'pandemic payment' for frontline workers

Last Updated Apr 25, 2020 at 2:55 pm EST

Healthcare workers do testing at a drive-thru COVID-19 assessment centre at the Etobicoke General Hospital in Toronto on Tuesday, April 21, 2020. Health officials and the government have asked that people stay inside to help curb the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette

The Ontario government says frontline workers will receive a raise of $4 per hour for the next four months on top of existing hourly wages as they help in the fight against COVID-19.

In addition, employees working over 100 hours per month would receive lump sum payments of $250 per month for each of the next four months, meaning eligible employees working an average of 40 hours per week would receive $3,560 in additional compensation.

According to the provincial government, 350,000 workers will be eligible for the ‘pandemic payment.’

“These people put themselves in harm’s way to care for our sick and vulnerable citizens,” said Premier Doug Ford. “I am truly grateful, as are the people of Ontario, for their service, and it’s time we give something back to those who sacrifice so much day in and day out.”

Ford credited the federal government for playing a “massive role” in helping to finance the program.

Among those eligible to receive the payment are staff working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, corrections institutions as well as personal support workers.

“These heroic workers are delivering critical services that support all Ontarians, including the most vulnerable members of our communities, often putting themselves or their loved ones at risk,” said Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy. “They are saving lives and we owe them an incredible debt of gratitude.”

The association which represents personal support workers applauded the move, adding it hopefully signifies a new era for health care in Ontario.

“Today is significant for PSWs, as we are finally being recognized for the vital and essential job we do every day for Ontario’s most vulnerable,” said Miranda Ferrier, President of the Personal Support Workers of Ontario. “We look forward to further discussions with the Premier and Minister moving forward.”

Ontario NDP leader Andrea Horwath called on the Ford government to make the move retroactive to March 17 when the state of emergency was declared.

Workers and workplaces eligible for the pandemic payment include:

Health care and long-term care

Eligible workplaces

  • Acute hospitals
  • Long-term care homes (including private, municipal and not-for-profit homes)
  • Licensed retirement homes
  • Home and community care

Eligible workers

  • Personal support workers
  • Registered nurses
  • Registered practical nurses
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Attendant care workers
  • Auxiliary staff, including porters, cook, custodian, housekeeping, laundry facilities and other key workers
  • Developmental services workers
  • Mental health and addictions workers

Social services

Eligible workplaces

  • Homes supporting people with developmental disabilities
  • Intervenor residential sites
  • Indigenous healing and wellness facilities/shelters
  • Shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking
  • Youth justice residential facilities
  • Licensed children’s residential sites
  • Directly operated residential facility ― Child and Parent Resource Institute
  • Emergency shelters
  • Supportive housing facilities
  • Respite/drop-in centres
  • Temporary shelter facilities, such as re-purposed community centres or arenas
  • Hotels/motels used for self-isolation and/or shelter overflow

Eligible workers

  • Direct support workers (e.g. developmental service workers, staff in licensed children’s residential sites, in-take/outreach workers)
  • Clinical staff
  • Housekeeping staff
  • Security staff
  • Administration personnel
  • Maintenance staff
  • Food service workers
  • Nursing staff


Eligible workplaces

  • Adult correctional facilities and youth justice facilities in Ontario

Eligible workers

  • Correctional officers
  • Youth services officers
  • Nurses
  • Healthcare staff
  • Social workers
  • Food service
  • Maintenance staff
  • Programming personnel
  • Administration personnel
  • Institutional liaison officers
  • TRILCOR personnel
  • Native inmate liaison officers
  • Chaplains