Canada is raising its minimum wage for essential workers as it becomes increasingly clear that those who are still obligated to show up to work amid the coronavirus pandemic are often the least compensated.
The initiative funnels $3 billion to raise wages for essential workers making less than $1,800 a month. Each province and territory will independently decide which workers are eligible for support and how much support they will receive.
It’s not immediately clear when the workers will see the money promised by the government or exactly how many workers are eligible.
“Workers are risking their health to provide us with essential care and services, and we need to make sure that they are paid properly for the work they do every day. We’re stepping up, and working with the provinces and territories, to give a much-needed wage boost to Canadians who are helping keep our country and economy strong during this difficult time,” Prime Minister Justin TrudeauJustin Pierre James TrudeauThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Obama backs Trudeau in Canadian election Photos of the Week: Gen. Lee statue, California drought, 9/11 MORE said in a statement Thursday..
An official with SEIU Healthcare, a union that represents more than 60,000 health care workers in Canada, told CNN that three of the union's health care workers have died of COVID-19. It said such workers continue to face shortages of protective equipment, an issue that has also been a problem in the U.S.
"The essential service workers that right now help save our lives and care for our loved ones are a lot of the minimum wage earners, the lowest paid in society. They have precarious work and our lives are depending on them right now," Sharleen Stewart, president of SEIU Healthcare, told the network.
The raise in wages coincides with a lack of health care workers in some provinces, such as Quebec, according to CBC News.
"Our biggest challenge remains the lack of staff in our health-care system," Quebec Premier François Legault said at a press conference Thursday, according to CBC.