“We’ve been pushing for additional recognition for health care workers for months now. I’m very pleased that this has finally come through.” — Michelle Gawronsky, MGEU President
Winnipeg (07 Dec. 2020) — The Manitoba government has announced a new $35 million Caregiver Wage Support Program for front-line workers in long-term care and other settings.
Eligible workers to receive $5 top-up
The province, which is cost sharing the program with the federal government, says it will be available to more than 20,000 Manitobans currently working full-time or part-time on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Eligible members of the Manitoba Government and General Employees' Union (MGEU/NUPGE) will include many government community workers and direct service workers: health care aides, recreation workers and housekeeping staff in long-term care, as well as staff at community agencies that provide social services to at-risk youth and families.
The government says eligible workers will receive an hourly $5 top-up to their wages, based on the number of hours worked between Nov. 1, 2020, and Jan. 10, 2021, and must earn a regular wage of $25 per hour or less. 2 intake periods will close on Dec. 14, 2020, and Jan. 18, 2021, and the benefit will be paid directly to workers by the province in the week after each intake period closes.
“We’ve been pushing for additional recognition for health care workers for months now,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “I’m very pleased that this has finally come through.”
Program does not recognize all workers
While this new program is important, Gawronsky worries about those who may not have been included.
“I’m concerned about the classifications which may have been overlooked,” said Gawronsky. “We were not consulted about who will be included, and we will be taking this up with the government right away. It takes everyone right now — those on the front lines and behind the scenes in a wide variety of services — to keep the system going, and all should be recognized.”
She also says that this program, and others like it, are no substitute for fair collective bargaining.
“Most public sector workers who have been working through the pandemic are working under expired contracts and have not had a wage increase in years. The province needs to get back to the bargaining table and deal fairly with public workers.”
Information about the Caregiver Wage Support Program, including details about how to register, can be found on the government’s website.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE