The B.C. provincial government has announced a temporary pay boost for over 250,000 eligible frontline health care and social service workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Workers will receive a lump sum payment of around $4 per hour for a 16-week period starting March 15th, 2020.

Those who are eligible to receive this pay boost do not need to apply as the money will be distributed through their employer.

“From care aids to domestic violence workers, to people working in corrections and others delivering essential addictions and mental health supports, our front-line workers are providing vital support to people who are most vulnerable during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Carole James, Minister of Finance, in a statement.

“Temporary pandemic pay recognizes all that our health and social service workers do to help keep people healthy, our communities running and deliver important care and services to the most vulnerable during this challenging time.”

The amount is provided through a cost-shared program between the provincial and federal governments and will be part of B.C.’s $5-billion COVID-19 Action Plan.

To be eligible to receive the lump-sum payment, employees must have worked straight-time hours (the number of hours an employee is expected to work in a day) any time during the 16-week period starting March 15, and does not apply to excluded management staff, fee-for-service providers or employees on leave.

After the announcement was made, the BC Government and Service Employees’ Union (BCGEU) issued a call for the provincial government to expand the pay boost to include essential workers in other sectors like the liquor and cannabis industry and employees maintaining food supply chains for the restaurant industry.

“From the moment this funding was announced by the federal government, our goal as a union was to make sure B.C.’s program covered the broadest possible swath of frontline essential workers,” says Stephanie Smith, BCGEU president.

“And our goal hasn’t changed. This kind of patchwork recognition creates arbitrary divisions at a moment when unity and solidarity among workers is more important than ever. We’re grateful for those who are covered, but we will keep fighting for those who aren’t.”

As it stands, the pandemic pay boost program is expected to cost approximately $540 million with the federal government contributing up to $401 million and B.C. adding up to $139 million.

Here’s a list of workplaces in which employees could now be eligible for this pay boost, categorized by sector.

Health services

  • hospitals
  • long-term care and assisted-living facilities
  • provincial mental health facilities
  • provincially funded home and community care services
  • public health units
  • primary care clinics
  • diagnostic facilities
  • community clinics
  • diagnostic and treatment centres

Social services

  • community living: residential services and intervenor residential sites
  • Indigenous services:
    • delegated Aboriginal agencies,
    • friendship centres providing critical services,
    • healing and wellness facilities and shelters
  • harm reduction:
    • shelters for survivors of gender-based violence and human trafficking,
    • directly operated residential facilities,
    • adult-justice residential facilities,
    • safe injection sites,
    • emergency outreach harm reduction workers,
    • emergency shelters,
    • supportive housing facilities,
    • respite and drop-in centres,
    • temporary shelter facilities, and
    • hotels and motels used for self-isolation or shelter overflow
  • youth services:
    • high-risk youth services,
    • youth justice residential facilities,
    • licensed children’s residential sites.
  • ¬†immigrant services:
    • high-risk support services for immigrants and refugees,
    • high-risk immigrant youth services,
    • settlement services.

Ministry of Social Development and Poverty Reduction (SDPR)

  • SDPR income assistance and disability reduction offices
  • SDPR/Service BC integrated offices
  • SDPR contact centre offices.

Ministry of Child and Family Development

  • Service Delivery Division

Service BC

  • Service BC offices

BC Housing

  • BC Housing main location and other offices

Community Living BC

  • head office and other local offices; and
  • Provincial Assessment Centre.

Corrections

  • adult correctional facilities and youth justice facilities;
  • community corrections offices; and
  • Sheriff Services Division.