Health-care workers at the vanguard of Manitoba’s COVID-19 fight are set to get some extra pay.
The province announced a new allowance Thursday that will be paid for any disruption to a normal work schedule due to redeployment to a “priority health-care setting,” such as a personal care home or ICU.
“Health-care workers have been at the forefront of Manitoba’s response to the pandemic, showing unrelenting dedication and commitment to patients in hospital and in the community as well as those Manitobans living in personal care homes,” Health Minister Cameron Friesen said in a news release.
“These agreements recognize the efforts and sacrifices of staff whose personal and professional lives may be disrupted by a change in their work that is made necessary by the demands of COVID-19.”
The compensation was reached through an agreement between the province and the Manitoba Government Employees’ Union, the biggest union representing provincial public servants.
Redeployment and reassignment have been used to respond to increased patient numbers in hospital intensive care and COVID-19 units, and to ensure sufficient staffing in personal care homes facing increased COVID-19 demands, the release says.
The agreement identifies personal care homes, intensive care units and dedicated COVID-19 units throughout the province as “priority areas” and enables health-care employers to make changes to work assignments, work locations, schedules, shift patterns and/or hours of work.
The agreement also provides a COVID-19 northern allowance, which includes travel reimbursement and compensation for staff redeployed to the north.
The allowance also extends to staff already working in Manitoba’s north who are reassigned or redeployed to pick up additional shifts elsewhere in the Northern Health Region, the release states.
“We’re pleased that we were able to negotiate an agreement that both helps with the pandemic effort and provides some recognition for more health workers who are caring for our most vulnerable during this challenging time,” MGEU president Michelle Gawronsky said in the release.
In the case of any reassignment or redeployment, each health-care worker’s training, skill level and seniority will be taken into account for the level of compensation, as will the region in which they work.
Staff will be assigned according to their skill set and area of greatest need, and will be provided with appropriate training and orientation to their new work environment and team, the release states.
Staff already receiving a wage supplement under the existing provincial Caregiver Wage Support Program, which tops up hourly wages for those providing direct patient or residential care to vulnerable Manitobans in care homes, are not eligible for the new compensation.
The agreement will remain in place for the duration of the pandemic response, the province said.
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