Covid-19 is increasing the hazards of being a laboratory professional
by Dennis Ernst • August 07, 2020
In April, Ontario's Provincial Premier made an announcement that some essential healthcare workers would receive a premium for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. The hazard-pay bonus would be in effect for four months and would amount to an additional $4 per hour plus $250 for those who work more than 100 hours in a month. However, phlebotomists, laboratory technicians and other staff members were not included, according to their union representatives.
The exemption prompted a backlash of protests at Kingston General Hospital and governmental offices. Unions representing Ontario's healthcare workers joined forces to apply pressure to provincial authorities to expand the list of eligible workers. While respiratory therapists and paramedics were later added, phlebotomists and other essential workers remain ineligible. However, not even the eligible workers have yet received their promised bonuses due to funding issues, eligibility requirements, and delays in establishing payment guidelines.
Further east, pandemic bonuses were also announced for healthcare workers in the Province of Nova Scotia. Officials there announced the distribution of up to $2,000 this fall to workers with patient contact. Presumably, that includes those who draw blood samples. Regardless, the announcement was protested by union representatives for not including all healthcare workers.
Pandemic bonuses are also being paid to healthcare workers with direct patient contact in the Canadian provinces of British Columbia, and Manitoba, Although in BC, payments are not being provided to front-line employees at privately funded facilities. The province of Saskatchewan is offering a "Temporary Wage Supplement" for low-income employees at essential care facilities like hospitals. In April, the Quebec provincial government gave all health-care workers who come into direct contact with COVID-19 patients an eight percent raise.
In April, the Alberta provincial government announced it will be funding "health-care aids" at contracted continuing care facilities with an additional $2/hour, but it does not apply to other healthcare worker roles.
In Newfoundland and Labrador, nearly 43,000 employees will be eligible for one-time payments between $600 and $1,500. However, union officials are expressing concern that most of its members won't see a dollar despite working in high-risk environments.
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