Last week, the federal government revealed some good news for Canada’s essential workers. In every single province and territory, some essential workers will be getting a raise. While there are still a number of details to be officially finalized, provincial governments are already making plans. If you’re eligible to claim the essential workers bonus, here’s exactly what you need to know.
On May 7, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government had reached an agreement with all of Canada’s provinces and territories, which would allow some essential workers across the country to receive a wage top-up.
Speaking at the time, Trudeau explained that both federal and provincial governments had agreed that essential staff needed to be supported.
"We're relying on these workers now more than ever and we will be there to support them," he said.
Ottawa will be putting $3 billion aside for this new initiative, which equals three-quarters of the total cash needed. The provinces and territories will cover the final $1 billion.
While all of Canada’s regions agreed that essential workers deserved additional support, it will be up to individual provinces and territories to decide who exactly is considered to be an “essential worker.”
For example, Quebec has already confirmed that you must be at least 15 years old to apply for their bonus, and have to earn a gross salary of $550 or less per week.
In Ontario, those working in long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, and supportive housing will be eligible for a wage top up, but those working in grocery stores will not.
As each province begins to announce their own individual criteria, payment schemes, and regulations for their different wage bonuses, here's exactly what we know so far ...
Premier Jason Kenney has revealed that the exact details of the wage boosts in Alberta are still being worked out.
However, Kenney noted that the new funds were likely to be allocated “where it is most needed,” including in nursing homes, long-term care homes, and in seniors' residences.
The premier added that any workers that are difficult to recruit and retain, such as health care aides, will be top of the list for the new bonus.
For now, no additional information has been shared.
For the time being, British Columbia has not officially announced any plans for the essential workers wage top up.
In Nova Scotia, the Essential Health Care Workers Program allows some workers to receive a bonus of up to $2,000 across four months, beginning March 13.
According to the province, eligible employees will include those working at the Nova Scotia Health Authority, in long-term care, home care, emergency health services and some cleaning staff. Employees who volunteered to be redeployed will also be able to claim the cash.
Workers can apply for the benefit whether they’re full-time, part-time or casual.
Information about how exactly to claim the benefits is yet to be announced.
In Ontario, Doug Ford has already confirmed that province’s essential staff will be getting a $4 hourly pay rise, regardless of their current wage.
Additionally, anybody working over 100 hours per month will be eligible to receive a monthly payment of $250. In total, some employees could actually earn an up to $3,560.
However, their criteria exclues many non-health care professionals. For now, the bonus will be given to people working in social services, some care settings, corrections institutions, youth justice facilities and some staff in hospitals.
Those working in grocery stores or private essential businesses have not been included at this time.
Prince Edward Island
Last week, the P.E.I. government confirmed that frontline workers in the province would receive a one-time payment of $1,000, providing they’ve earned less than $3,000 in a four-week period.
Initially, the program was designed for health care workers making less than $2,500 a month, however only 350 Islanders ended up falling into this category.
Therefore, P.E.I. re-categorized who was considered to be an "essential worker." Now, the criteria includes a huge range of job roles, all of which are listed here.
Information about how exactly to claim the cash will be announced this week. Approximately 17,000 locals are expected to be eligible for the bonus.
In Quebec, the Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers (IPREW) will launch this month.
The initiative will provide the province’s essential workers with a salary bonus of up to $100 per week for up to 16 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
According to the government’s website, essential workers will include those working in priority health services and social services, public security services, government services, finance services and more. The full list can be found here.
Those eligible will be able to apply for the bonus as early as next week.
Since the federal government announced their increased funding for essential workers, Saskatchewan is yet to make an official announcement about their plans.
However, prior to the federal update, the province had already been offering a temporary wage supplement for lower income essential workers.
The supplement offers $400 per month, for up to four months.
Workers earning less than $2,500 per month in senior-care facilities, childcare facilities, group homes and emergency shelters are all eligible for the funding, whether their role is full-time or part-time.
New Brunswick, Manitoba & Newfoundland and Labrador
For now, neither New Brunswick, Manitoba or Newfoundland and Labrador have released any official information about their plans for the essential workers wage top up.
The same applies for Nunavut, Northwest Territories and Yukon.
This article will be updated when further information is available.