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BC Doesn’t Think Grocery Store Workers Are Frontline Enough For A Pay Raise

B.C. is calling on grocery chains to help instead.

It's no secret that grocery store employees have been deemed essential during the pandemic. Though, it doesn't look like they'll be getting access to the front-line workers' wage top-up. On Tuesday, May 19, B.C. updated the details of the pandemic pay program. According to the B.C. pandemic pay criteria, grocery workers are excluded from the wage top-up that's being dished out to frontline workers. 

In an official statement released on May 19, B.C. Finance Minister Carole James said, "Our front-line workers are providing vital support to people who are most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic." 

The program will let more than 250,000 eligible workers receive a payment of $4 per hour for a 16-week-period. The entire amount will be given in one lump sum.

To qualify, workers must have been working from March 15, 2020.

They don't have to apply for the payment, they'll get it automatically from their employers. 

Although the program is supposed to cater to frontline workers, it doesn't include grocery store workers in the official eligibility list

The list mentions three key industries: health services, social services, and corrections. 

Under health services, you see jobs like resident nurses, doctors, pharmacists, paramedics, administrative roles, and even non-clinical positions like housekeepers, and food service workers among others.

But they all have to be working in a health service workplace like a hospital, clinic, long-term care home or others. 

As for social services, that includes positions in residential services, indigenous services, immigration services, homeless shelters, women shelters, safe injection sites, and more. 

Meanwhile, corrections include prisons, corrections offices, and Sheriff service stations. 

Nowhere does it mention grocery store workers. According to Global News, Carole James is encouraging grocery store chains to step up and provide a pay boost to their workers. 

She said that she wants to see businesses that have been getting more revenue in light of pandemic making sure that their employees get a pay raise at this time. 

"This cost-shared program with the federal government will benefit thousands of British Columbia’s front-line health and social service workers," read James' statement on the government website. 

B.C.'s pandemic pay program will not include management roles, contract employees, or employees on leave either. 

"People at the front lines of the pandemic are working tirelessly to keep us and our loved ones healthy, while also delivering services to the most vulnerable in our community,” said James in the statement. 

This pandemic pay program is part of B.C.'s COVID-19 Action Plan, which is supposed to provide relief to people, communities, and businesses in British Columbia, according to the website. 

While health care workers will be receiving pay increases, it will be up to the grocery chains to give their employees raises, should they choose to do so.