B.C. government announces pandemic allowance for all health care and community social services workers

Pandemic pay will be paid as lump sum based on about $4 an hour over 16 weeks

The B.C. government announced a pandemic payment today that will cover health care and community social services workers, as well as staff in correctional facilities.

The temporary pandemic pay will cover more than 250,000 front-line workers who provide a range of in-person, clinical and supportive services to vulnerable populations

Under the program, lump sum payments will be provided to workers based on straight-time hours worked over a 16-week period retroactive to March 15. The payment is worth about $4 an hour.

The Hospital Employees’ Union has been campaigning for the pandemic allowance since early April and had called for the payment to be applied to a broad range of health care and community social services workers.

With few exceptions, this payment will apply to all HEU members.

“Over the past three weeks, more than 12,000 HEU members -- one out of four -- emailed government ministers and their MLAs calling for recognition and compensation for the added costs they’re facing as a result of working through the pandemic,” says HEU secretary-business manager Jennifer Whiteside.

“I have no doubt their voices were important in convincing government to act.  And we’re grateful to our provincial government for listening to front-line workers and investing resources in this important program.”

The program has very broad application and will cover workers in funded health and community social services including those employed by contracted providers and by sub-contractors. The program is cost-shared by the federal and provincial governments.

The pandemic payment is in addition to the level up of wages to Facilities and Nurses master agreement rates at long-term care and assisted living sites covered by the Provincial Health Officer’s order limiting workers to a single site.

HEU members will have many questions about the pandemic payment, including how the payment will be calculated and when it will be distributed. When those details are available, they will be published on the union website at www.heu.org.