Pandemic pay: More frontliners stand to benefit from $1000 bonus

The incentive is open to full-time and part-time workers

Pandemic pay: More frontliners stand to benefit from $1000 bonus

More essential workers in Manitoba may qualify for the government’s one-time cash incentive of $1,000 for those who continued to report for work during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Manitoba is preparing to reward frontliners with the lump-sum bonus, as part of the province’s $120m “risk recognition” program, which gives financial support to low-income essential workers. The program initially covered only those with a monthly base pay of $2,500 or less.

This week, however, the province announced the bonus scheme will include workers whose base pay falls below $5,000 a month.

READ MORE: 100,000 frontliners may qualify for $1000 'hero pay'

The incentive remains open to full-time and part-time workers in the private and public sectors who have clocked in (or would have done so if they weren’t ordered to self-quarantine) a minimum of 200 work hours during the pandemic, from 20 March to 29 May.

The government has also expanded the number of industries and occupations that stand to benefit from the program. Apart from employees in the grocery, retail, health care, social care, and law enforcement sectors, those in hospitality and business improvement may also qualify for the bonus.

The additional occupations include reception, cleaning, maintenance, kitchen, service and security staff at hotels as well as zone improvement personnel who are in charge of community patrol, graffiti removal, street-cleaning, and the distribution of personal protective equipment and COVID-19-related education materials. Eligible workers may apply until 29 June.

READ MORE: 'You deserve a raise': Canada to boost pay for frontliners

Manitoba widened the range of eligible workers to “ensure the program continues to support lower- to middle-income workers,” said Scott Fielding, Manitoba’s finance minister.

The province consulted with leaders from the business community, as well as labour unions and essential services organizations, on how to increase the number of beneficiaries.

“A majority of stakeholders voted to increase the qualifying threshold to a total pre-tax employment income of less than $5,000 per month, or $12,500 total during the 2.5-month eligibility period, and exclude overtime from the total gross income calculation,” the provincial government said.

The federal government will continue to cover about 75% of the costs in an effort to “recognize low-income Canadian workers who risked their own health to provide crucial services,” Fielding said.

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