“The bottom line is this: If you’re risking your health to keep this country moving and you’re making minimum wage, you deserve a raise” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said at a news conference in early May.
Yukon workers have been waiting to see if the territorial government has any plans at all to give them a pay raise. The PM said provinces and territories will determine pay increases and decide who is eligible under the cost-sharing agreement between federal, provincial, and territorial governments.
In today's press conference, Minister Ranj Pillai announced a program designed to help low-income essential workers by boosting pay to $20/hr for all those currently earning less than that. Unfortunately, the Minister said that anyone who hopes to benefit from the increase to their base rate of pay must promise not to also accept the CERB.
The CERB provides $2000/month for workers who've lost income because of the crisis. They can earn up to $1000 per month and still qualify, so we are unsure how Minister Pillai's statement will prove to be a benefit for some. Many essential workers earning low pay are part-time. Access to a living wage for those p/t employees should not cancel out their access to this critical federal benefit.
While the benefits and plans offered differ by region, all share the goal of improving wages for the tens of thousands of workers taking it on the chin since the Covid-19 outbreak began. They don’t earn a lot, but they show up, put on a mask (if they can find one), and make sure our world keeps turning.
We think it’s time for the Yukon government to step up and provide clear explanations of their proposed pandemic pay funding and answers. Why must all affected workers choose between accessing the CERB and accepting a pay boost, when it may prove detrimental overall?
Here’s an incomplete breakdown of what is being offered to low earning essential workers in other parts of the country:
- Quebec’s program makes up the difference between the $2,000 a month Canada Emergency Response Benefit and an eligible workers’ wage, providing $100 weekly for up to 16 weeks.
- Ontario’s “pandemic pay” provides a $4-per-hour wage boostfor front-line workers. Those eligible include health care workers, staff at long-term care homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, social services and correctional facilities. Employees working more than 100 hours a month would also receive lump sum payments of $250 for each of the next four months.
- Saskatchewan will provide essential workers in seniors homes, day cares and shelters earning less than $2,500 a month a $400-per-month pay boost.
- Alberta’s government is providing a $2-per-hour boost for long-term care workers.
- The BC Government announced a $4/hr top up for more than a quarter of a million essential healthcare and social service workers including nursing home attendants and home care providers including domestic violence workers.
- Manitoba is providing a one-time risk payment of approximately $1K to essential workers.
- The Government of the Northwest Territories is bumping low-wage workers’ salaries to $18/hour from April 1 to July 31.
- Nova Scotia is providing a one-time $2k top-up in July for full-time, part-time and casual nursing home, ambulance, hospital and home care workers.
- PEI has promised a one-off payment of $1000 for those essential employees earning less than $3k/month.
Yukon's leaders need to show up for low wage workers. Let's show that we value their incredible work and contribution as they show up for all of us through this crisis. It’s well past time.
YEU 2020 EDUCATION BURSARIES
SOON TO BEGIN ACCEPTING APPLICATIONS
The fall of 2020 may prove to be the most unusual back-to-school we've ever experienced. At YEU, we know you have lots to consider, lots to plan, and more than a few things to worry about as you prepare for your studies this year. We hope we can help.
YEU is proud to offer 8 Education Bursaries annually, each for $1000. These bursaries are offered to Yukon students planning to pursue studies in an accredited post-secondary school - on campus or through online education as a result of changes due to Covid-19. To be eligible, you must either be a member of Yukon Employees’ Union or be the dependent of a YEU member.
We will begin accepting applications by the end of May.
We've held a few of these online open house hangouts for our members, and we're planning to hold one more. Attendance has been pretty low, so if you think it's worth doing, please make sure you take a few minutes and stop in to say hello. Link to the meeting is on our website - click the image and the event page will open. Hope to "see" you there on Wednesday May 27th.
Take care friends. It's a marathon, and not a sprint. We're all gearing up to go back to our workplaces, hoping it's a smooth and forward moving process. We know we have to go slowly and carefully, but together we'll get through this.
Have a great weekend,
Steve Geick, President
Yukon Employees' Union