Enhanced Funding Needed for Front-Line Healthcare Workers
CLAC calls on the Ontario government to provide increased funds for front-line caregivers
Grimsby, ON—CLAC is calling on Ontario’s ministers of health and long term care for enhanced funding for front-line caregivers.
In recent correspondence to both ministers, CLAC wrote about the personal hardship, cost, and increased risk of exposure that front-line caregivers are experiencing during the COVID-19 crisis.
CLAC noted that other provinces have already enhanced funding. Quebec has increased pay for 300,000 healthcare workers and will increase pay by as much as 8 percent if an outbreak is declared in their facility. In BC, the province has taken on the role of employer for long term care workers, offering as much as $7.00 more per hour during the crisis.
In an outbreak, Public Health imposes strict rules that cause demands on staff, and the need for more staff, to increase exponentially. In some workplaces, employers are trying to hire additional staff for only pennies more than minimum wage.
“Front-line workers face many additional personal costs during this pandemic,” says Michael Reid, CLAC’s healthcare coordinator in Ontario. “They are also being forced to leave secondary employment in other facilities and commit to a single employer to limit any infection risks.
“Under Ontario’s emergency orders, front-line caregivers work longer, harder, under more pressure, and with fewer rights and protections than ever before,” says Reid. “This is because collective agreement rules for scheduling, time off, rest periods, and working hours have been suspended, putting even more pressure on the workers and their families.”
In Ontario, there is evidence that some long term care employers are acting independently and are already offering $3.00 to $4.00 more per hour. Some community living support agencies for persons with disabilities are already offering $2.00 more per hour, as well as reimbursement for taxi expenses and childcare costs.
CLAC is calling on the province to implement a coordinated, uniform wage enhancement solution.
“It won’t serve the public interest to have employers competing for healthcare workers in this time of crisis,” says Reid. “This is a sector that was already in crisis and CLAC had been ringing alarm bells about worker burnout and low compensation for years. The current crisis, which will affect the healthcare sector for many months to come, requires the financial supports necessary to ensure that workers don’t leave when Ontarians need them most.”