TORONTO — Premier Doug Ford announced new raises for frontline health-care workers on Saturday, while blasting anti-lockdown protesters who gathered at Queen’s Park for being “reckless” and “selfish.”
Ford said frontline workers will receive a raise of $4 per hour for the next four months, as a way to thank workers for their hard work while attracting more people to fill important vacant positions.
The provincial government said 350,000 workers across the province will be eligible for the raise, regardless of whether their facility is experiencing an outbreak.
“It’s our way of saying thank you,” said Ford during his daily press conference. “For a full time (worker) that means about an extra $3,560.”
The premier said the bonus will be available for workers with long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services congregate care settings, corrections institutions and youth justice facilities, home and community care providers and some staff in hospitals.
The premier made the announcement as dozens of protesters took to the provincial legislature to defy physical distancing measures set by the province.
“It just burns me up,” said Ford.
“We have health-care people working tirelessly, but then we have a bunch of yahoos sitting there protesting as they’re breaking the law and putting workers in jeopardy.”
He said the demonstration could set back health-care workers at hospitals just down the street from their protest site.
Ford’s comments came as the Ministry of Health reported 476 new cases of COVID-19 and 48 more deaths.
The ministry reported a total of 811 deaths related to the virus on Saturday, and said 245 people are currently in intensive care
The total number of cases now stands at 13,995, which is a 3.5 per cent growth over Friday’s total — the lowest growth rate the province has seen in weeks.
NDP Leader Andrea Horwath reacted to Ford’s announcement on Saturday, saying front-line workers should have been given a raise at the start of the pandemic.
“Our front-line workers, whether in long-term care facilities or hospital kitchens, have done extraordinary work since the beginning of this state of emergency,” said Horwath in a press release.
“I’m asking Doug Ford to make this additional pay retroactive to the day the state of emergency was declared, so that people’s sacrifice and hard work to keep us all safe is recognized.”
Ford said his government didn’t have the capacity to give workers a raise until the federal government decided to help fund the initiative.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April, 25, 2020.
Salmaan Farooqui, The Canadian Press