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Tens of thousands of essential B.C. workers still waiting for 'pandemic pay': union

Last Updated Jan 31, 2021 at 8:10 pm PST

FILE - Canadian bills.
Summary

Tens of thousands of healthcare workers are still waiting for a wage top-up for hours worked between May and July

A representative for the Hospital Employees Union estimates 20 per cent of those eligible are still waiting

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Thousands of workers deemed essential during the first phase of the pandemic are still waiting for the B.C. government to top up their wages.

In May, they were promised an extra $4 per hour for a 16-week period that ended in July.

About 20 per cent of all 250,000 eligible workers are still waiting, according to Mike Old with the Hospital Employees Union.

“It’s been very frustrating for many healthcare workers who were expecting to see their pandemic pay by Christmas, and then by the end of January, and it appears they’re still not going to receive it,” Old says.

“Some of these workers are among the lowest paid in the healthcare sector. They’ve been waiting a long time, so it is pretty disappointing.”

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Old says he understands the “administrative complexity” involved in getting cash to everyone eligible.

“It is true that we have a very fragmented healthcare system with many levels of employers, lots of privatization, and subcontracting. So, when the paperwork is processed by employers, by health authorities, by one or two ministries that is time-consuming,” Old says.

“The pandemic’s been really hard on lots of British Columbians and some of the lowest paid healthcare workers who were expecting this pandemic bonus would have liked to have had it during the holidays, and they could use it now. The sooner they can get it the better.”