Dear Premier Ford,
With the release of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives report that Ontario is leading in unallocated pandemic relief funds, I write to you today to again ask you to use those funds to support health care workers on the frontline of this pandemic.
While we appreciate that personal support workers in some areas are eligible for $3.00/hour or $2.00/pandemic pay, many of our frontline heroes remain excluded, yet still face the same challenges.
Unifor recommends that your government make the following expansion to pandemic pay, retroactive to the October 1, 2020, announcement.
- Pandemic pay should include all frontline workers in Ontario Long-term Care Homes.
Cleaners, laundry and dietary workers, rehab/activation workers, clerical workers and nurses are all on the frontline and at significant personal risk. I hope it has not gone unnoticed by your government that a 19-year-old contract cleaner, Yassin Dabeh, died of COVID-19 contracted while working in a nursing home in outbreak. He was excluded from pandemic pay.
- Retirement home workers, including personal support workers, should be included in pandemic pay.
These workers, who generally work for for-profit employers, earn substantially less than their counterparts in the LTC sector. Retirement homes have experienced tragic outbreaks and continue to do so today.
All front-line hospital workers should receive pandemic pay including nurses, porters, cleaners and laundry workers, rehab workers, therapists, technicians and technologists, clerical workers and any others with patient contact.
- Hospital workers are also now subjected to expanded redeployment legislation that could see them redeployed, even without their consent, to other hospitals and retirement homes in addition to LTC homes.
- All Paramedics and any other frontline EMS workers to be included in pandemic pay.
I would also like to remind you that various orders from your government allow these employers to disrupt and change schedules and deny or cancel vacation without consequence. Employers exercise these powers, even if the workplace is not in outbreak.
Working through this pandemic will haunt front-line workers for years. Banking available funds that should be going to the front line is unconscionable.
I ask that you reconsider the decisions on pandemic pay immediately and I look forward to your response.
Unifor National President