More than 250,000 eligible front-line workers in B.C. will soon be receiving a “pandemic pay” wage top-up, as part of a shared-cost emergency program for essential sectors.
The amount, which will be doled out as a lump-sum payment through employers will amount to an extra $4 per hour for up to 16 weeks of work, retroactive to March 15.
According to the government, that equates to a total of $2,240 for someone who worked 35 hours each week.
“From care aids to domestic violence workers, to people working in corrections and others delivering essential addictions and mental health supports, our front-line workers are providing vital support to people who are most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic,” Finance Minister Carole James said in a statement Tuesday (May 19).
“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.”
The wage top-up is part of a cost-shared program announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in early May. The pay is part of the province’s $5-billion COVID-19 Action Plan.
Unlike the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers and other federal programs brought in to help curb financial losses from COVID-19, eligible workers will not need to apply for the temporary pay hike and instead receive the payment directly through their employer.
A list of eligible sectors can be found on the B.C. government website.
To receive temporary pandemic pay, an employee must:
- Have been working straight-time hours at any point during the 16-week period starting on March 15, 2020, at the height of the Province’s response to the pandemic
- Casual and on-call workers who have worked straight- time hours during this period are also eligible
- Work in an eligible sector, workplace and role delivering in-person, front-line care in health, social services and corrections
- Provide additional support and relief to front-line workers by working in ways that directly serve vulnerable populations
In B.C., minimum wage is currently $13.85 per hour, and will be increased to $14.60 on June 1.
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