Some Ontarians think certain frontline healthcare workers are getting the short end of the stick. On April 25, Premier Doug Ford announced the Ontario "pandemic payments," bringing a temporary wage increase of $4 for healthcare workers risking their lives amid COVID-19. However, not all frontline staff are included and a petition calls for all provincial healthcare workers to get the bonus.
Ford revealed on April 25 that eligible workers will receive an extra $4 per hour's work for the next 16 weeks. Those who work 100 hours or more could get an extra $250.
A list of eligible workers for the "pandemic payment" is available on the Ontario website.
They include personal support workers, registered nurses and practical nurses, nurse practitioners, attendant care workers, auxiliary staff like porters and cooks, developmental services workers, and mental health and addictions workers.
However, for some Ontarians, this measure is simply not enough right now.
A petition started on Sunday, April 26, notes that some key jobs are not included in the wage subsidy.
That's why Ottawa resident Julia Adams felt compelled to start the petition on Change.org, she told Narcity by email.
"When I heard about the pay increase for healthcare workers, I thought it was an excellent thing to implement," Adams told Narcity by email.
"But when I heard that two of the most important workers were excluded (respiratory therapists and paramedics), it didn't sit right with me.
"I have a couple of family members who are respiratory therapists. They are in direct contact with patients who have COVID-19. They are constantly putting themselves, and their families, at-risk to put others first, which is an admirable task."
The petition's supporters believe there is no reason these workers should be omitted.
Comments include: "I am a paramedic and it feels like a giant slap in the face to me that I was passed over. Why am I not going home and staying at a friend's house instead (of) paying rent so I don’t infect my parents who are more vulnerable to this disease. I’m making sacrifices and then just skipped over. It hurts."
A statement from Ontario Health Minister Christine Elliott's office to Narcity read: "We’re grateful for the tireless work of our frontline healthcare workers and will continue to stand behind them as we respond collectively to the COVID-19 outbreak. We’re continuing to consult with our healthcare partners to address questions and determine who might meet the criteria for pandemic pay."
However, the Minister's office did not confirm why respiratory therapists and paramedics are excluded right now in the fight against a respiratory virus.
At the time of writing, and in under 24 hours, the petition has gathered the majority of its initial target of 1,000 signatures.
"The goal is to raise awareness of this matter in order for the government to recognize these crucial frontline workers. They deserve the pay increase for their dedication and hard work, along with the severe risks they are taking, all to take care of others," added Adams.
From petitioning for more pay to students creating vital PPE such as face shields for those staff risking their lives to care for residents, Ontario stands in solidarity.