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OPSEU Pandemic Pay Q & A


On April 25, the Ontario government announced it will provide temporary pandemic pay to frontline workers at risk of exposure to COVID-19 in congregate care settings. The initial list of eligible workers was shorter than it is now. After a series of conversations with government officials, OPSEU succeeded in expanding the list but it is not everything we asked for.  

OPSEU has called on the government to compensate and protect all workers affected by the pandemic.  We will continue to advocate for every frontline worker that is impacted in all sectors such as health care, mental health, hospitals and LCBO among others. 

The implementation of this temporary pay acknowledges the lack of decent pay in many social services and community health settings where workers who work with vulnerable populations now face serious health risks associated with COVID-19.    

Eligible workers will receive the pay directly from their employers.

We hope that you will find the information below helpful. If you have further questions, please contact your OPSEU Staff Representative.  

Do you qualify for pandemic pay? 

The increase in compensation will be available to staff providing frontline clinical services, as well as support services such as cleaning and meal preparation, in the health care and long-term care sectors, the social services sector and the correctional sector.   

The government has published online a list of employers and roles that qualify for pandemic pay that is available here. Significant changes were announced on May 27, so please visit page to see if you qualify. If you qualify but your employer says you don’t, reach out to your staff representative. 

OPSEU will keep fighting for pandemic pay expansion to include all frontline workers, who need and deserve the increase in pay for the risk they are taking every day. 

How much is it?  

Eligible frontline workers will see an increase of $4.00/hour to their existing regular wages for a 16-week period.  

In addition to the top-up, a lump sum payment of $250 per month will also be available to eligible frontline workers who work over 100 hours per month. As a result, $3,560 in additional compensation would be available to eligible employees working an average of 40 hours a week. 

When does it start?  

Starting April 24, 2020 for 16 weeks, ending August 13, 2020. 

In the first week of June, ministries will start sending funding details to employers that receive funding directly from government and service delivery managers.

Employers will receive funding for pandemic pay starting in early June, though exact timing will vary. Eligible employees will receive pandemic pay through their existing payroll systems. Appropriate accountability requirements will be in place to ensure that funding is provided to eligible employees

How do workers get paid?   

The hourly increase of $4.00 will be paid directly by employers.  

The government will be releasing details on how workers will receive the additional lump sum payment.  

Am I eligible if I am on a paid leave of absence? (i.e. Maternity, sick, vacation)   

No. The top up and lump sum payment apply only to hours worked. Members who are on any authorized paid leave including WSIB are not eligible. 

Will it impact my pension, benefits or base salary?  

No.  The top up and lump sum payment are non-pensionable earnings, are not part of an employee’s base salary, and will have no impact on benefits paid by employers. 

For more information you can access the government the Ontario government website.