Pandemic pay letdown

We are surprised and disappointed by the Ford government’s decision last week to not expand pandemic pay beyond those already deemed eligible. This completely contradicts Health Minister Christine Elliott’s statement on May 14, 2020, when she told Ontarians the Ministry was working on a consolidated list to ensure that, “everyone who should receive pandemic pay will receive it.”

We are extremely proud of our radiation therapists working on the front lines during this pandemic. Just like other healthcare workers deemed eligible for pandemic pay, you are subject to the same provisions of the Ontario state of emergency. You are essential workers who cannot refuse to treat patients who are suspected to have contracted COVID-19. You are taking all precautions possible, screening patients and using personal protective equipment (PPE). And just like other healthcare workers, radiation therapists have been exposed to COVID-19 in your workplaces. 

Following the announcement of the pandemic pay, a letter was sent by PIPSC President Debi Daviau to Premier Ford, Health Minister Elliott and President of the Treasury Board, Bethlenfalvy. Calls were also placed to their offices and key staff within the government. 

We also reached out to other unions and groups representing hospital workers in Ontario who were not identified as included for pandemic pay, including OPSEU and the Ontario Association of Medical Radiation Sciences (OAMRS). 

On May 6, 2020, PIPSC launched an Email the Premier campaign. Members were asked to send a personal email to the Premier and key ministers, to demonstrate their concern over being excluded from pandemic pay. Thank you to all of our members who wrote to the Premier in support of this campaign.

Many hospital presidents, CEOs and employer organizations also supported the inclusion of radiation therapists and other hospital workers for pandemic pay:

  • Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre President & CEO, Mr. Jean Bartkowiak, wrote to the Premier asking that all hospital employees, except CEO's, be included in the pandemic pay.
  • Windsor Regional Hospital President & CEO, Mr. David Musyj, wrote the Premier and spoke publicly in support of expanding pandemic pay for hospital employees.
  • The eight CEOs of the Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant Burlington Hospitals issued a public letter asking that pandemic pay be examined on how it "could apply to all hospital employees to provide equitable recognition.”

The Ontario Hospital Association and multiple other health organizations submitted a public letter to the Ontario Premier, copied to the Minister of Health, Treasury Board President and key staff, urging the province to accelerate and expand the implementation of pandemic pay of all non-management frontline staff, “to recognize the critical services provided and the team effort required in fighting COVID-19.”

Despite all of the support for expanding pandemic pay, the pleas to the Ford government have gone unanswered. 

This is beyond disappointing and upsetting for our members who have continued your important work in Ontario’s cancer centres throughout this crisis. You deserve the same recognition as the other professionals in the hospital who have been granted the pay. We plan to pursue this further in the collective bargaining process.