Canada investing $4 billion into wage top-ups for essential workers

Canada investing $4 billion into wage top-ups for essential workers
Sean Kilpatrick / Canadian Press
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says the federal government will spend $4 billion to top up the wages of essential workers.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the federal government has reached an agreement with each province and territory on wage top-ups for essential workers.

During a routine press conference from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa, the prime minister said that $4 billion will be invested into various agreements across the country to help boost the wages of workers who are putting themselves at risk amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You deserve to be properly paid for the essential work you are doing,” said Trudeau, speaking directly to front line workers.

Trudeau said in his national address that the program has been a “truly collaborative effort,” suggesting that the decision on who qualifies for the wage top-ups will be made by each province.

“Premiers from across the country all agree that we need to support our essential workers and I thank the premiers for the continued Team Canada approach.”

Despite the decision on who will receive the boost being left in the hands of each province, Trudeau suggested one base principle.

“If you’re risking your health to keep this country moving and you’re making minimum wage, you deserve a raise,” stated the prime minister.

The $4 billion being invested by the federal government is the total for the program Canada-wide, however, Trudeau points out they have negotiated unique agreements with each province and territory to account for cross-country variants.

In each of these signed agreements, the feds will be covering three-quarters of the cost and the provincial governments will cover the remaining one-quarter.

“Because of the variants across the country both of the COVID-19 situation and of delivery of essential services including health care, we felt that it was best the provinces move forward in choosing exactly how they can best help the workers who are doing such important work,” said Trudeau when answering questions from the media.

The idea of boosting wages for essential workers was announced by Trudeau back in April, outlining that the wage top-ups would be for essential workers who are making under $2,500 a month.

Although this was said to be an urgent priority at the time, it took over three weeks to finalize agreements with each province.

Some of the details are still to be worked, according to Trudeau, but he says the provinces know best who deserves the money and how much.

Trudeau indicates that provinces may select anyone on the front lines to receive these top-ups, from long-term health care workers to grocery store clerks.

Graham CoxGraham Cox

Recent Stories

Send us your news tips and videos!