Quebec ­recognizes work of ‘guardian angels’

By Matthew McCully

The provincial government has announced a funding package of $287 million in bonus pay for front line workers and employees of the health care network, overburdened by the COVID-19 crisis. “They are risking their lives to save ours,” said Treasury Board Chair Christian Dubé during the funding announcement Thursday. Dubé pointed out while the financial incentive could never match what front line workers are providing on a daily basis to help the population, the gesture is intended to recognize their hard work.

The bonuses will be paid out in three different ways. Those who are working on the front line will receive an eight per cent increase in salary, retroactive to March 13. All other employees in health care institutions across the province will see a four per cent salary increase. Dubé explained that even those who are not on the front lines, like 811 operators and lab technicians doing tests, or staff working with patients unrelated to COVID-19 are stretched thin and working more than usual. PABs will be compensated differently. According to Health and Social Services Minister Danielle McCann, PABs, including those in the private sector, will see a $4 per hour increase in pay, retroactive to March 13.
When asked about the per hour breakdown, Dubé said the amount depends on the position. He gave the example of an entry level PAB in a private residence with pay around $12-$13 per hour. A $4 bonus would represent a salary increase of around 25-30 per cent. A CHSLD entry level employee making $20 per hour entitled to an 8 per cent bonus would receive an increase of roughly $2 per hour. Nurses will be looking at a bonus of around $3 or $4 per hour, Dubé said. For the moment, the bonus pay is scheduled to continue for 16 weeks, aligned with federal COVID-19 income support initiatives, but Dubé said discussions are continuing regarding the longer term.
Dubé stressed that the current funding is in recognition of the hard work done by the health care network in extraordinary circumstances, and has nothing to do with collective agreement negotiations.

Published in the Friday, April 3 edition of The Record.


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