Trudeau says deal reached to boost essential workers’ pay

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Ottawa, (Asian independent) Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that the federal government and all provincial and territorial governments have reached a cost-sharing agreement of 4 billion Canadian dollars (about US $2.9 billion) to raise payments for essential workers.

Under the agreement, the Trudeau government will provide 3 billion Canadian dollars and the provinces and territories will contribute the rest, Xinhua news agency reported on Thursday.

“Right now, we are finalizing the details with the last provinces, and I want to underscore that this has been a truly collaborative effort,” Trudeau said at his press conference in Ottawa. “We are relying on these workers now more than ever and we will be there to support them.”

On April 15, Trudeau first promised that funding was coming to keep front-line workers, including those in seniors’ homes, on the job and that wages would be increased for essential workers who are making less than 2,500 Canadian dollars a month through a transfer to the provinces and territories.

The move is meant to keep as many of these workers on the job, especially those in seniors’ homes. Seniors’ homes across Canada have seen staff become infected and others reluctant to show up for work because of concerns of inadequate personal protective equipment, leading to the Canadian military being called in to help.

The cost-sharing agreement involves a transfer of federal funds to the provinces and territories soon. “It will be up to each province and territory to determine who exactly qualifies for this wage increase,” Trudeau said.

As of Thursday afternoon, there were 64,817 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Canada, and 4,404 deaths, according to a CTV News tally.