As medical professionals attempt to keep the COVID-19 death toll at bay, they are putting their lives at risk day in and day out, as are many other essential employees who daily risk their lives to keep the necessary functions of society running. While thanks to these selfless individuals has been persistently expressed throughout this pandemic, some countries have begun to express their thanks in a financial manner as well. Canada has increased the pay of medical professionals and other essential employees with a $2.85 billion (USD) bill. 75% of this bill consists of contributions from the Canadian federal government. The other 25% of the deal is funded by individual provinces who will decide which workers receive increased incomes as well as the size of said increase.
The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, states that “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.” The Saskatchewan government has already stated that employees who work with high risk individuals, such as in nursing homes or daycare facilities, and make less than $2,500 a month are eligible for up to a $400 a month raise for the next 2 months. The Ontario government has also worked on a raise for essential employees. The government is seeking to provide a $4-per-hour increase for workers employed in high risk populations such as nursing homes and daycare facilities. Again this increase would last roughly two months.
Trudeau went on to say, “We're also going to have to have reflections about how we manage and how we maintain our long-term care facilities, how we support essential workers who are very low paid, how we move forward as a society to make sure that our vulnerable are properly taken care of and properly rewarded for the important work they do."
Now the question rests, is President Trump going to take similar action to that of Trudeau and raise the wages of frontline workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic? In the United States, individual businesses have taken steps to ensure attendance of employees and to recognize the risk they take in continuing to work throughout the pandemic. But such wage boosts are merely a small amount of bonus pay and many workers are left feeling that society owes them more for their sacrifice. As of early May, the United States federal government has not released a bill to boost the wages of essential employees. With the coronavirus pandemic seemingly drawing to an end and economies begin to reopen, this may end up being an issue which fades into the past. But one thing is for certain; society will not be quite the same after reopening.