Provincial Government Consults Community Leaders on "Risk Recognition" Payments
May 14, 2020
Late yesterday, MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky was invited to join a video conference consultation meeting today with Manitoba Finance Minister Scott Fielding to discuss the Province’s responsibility for overseeing a one-time “risk recognition payment” to front-line workers in the battle against COVID-19.
The Province will contribute 25% of the cost of the program while the federal government is picking up the other 75%. A total of $120 million is available for this program.
The province is responsible for determining the amount of the payment, who is eligible to receive it, and how workers apply for it. Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced yesterday that his government will consult with business, labour and community leaders on how the program should be structured. In making this announcement, the Premier confirmed the payment would only be a one-time payment and estimated that it would be approximately $1,000 per eligible worker.
Today's meeting was the province's first step in consulting with community leaders on the program. Participants included business, labour, and community representatives from both the public, private, and not-for-profit sectors.
Gawronsky asked Minister Fielding to clarify the objectives and parameters for the program. He indicated that the program was intended for "front-line" workers required to do work "caring for vulnerable Manitobans" and with heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Gawronsky told the Minister and his officials about the wide range of MGEU members who have been working through the pandemic in a way consistent with his intended recipients for the one-time payments. She also noted that many private sector workers have also risen to these challenges. Many participants expressed the view that the payments should be targeted to lower paid front-line workers.
Ultimately, the provincial government will decide who receives the payments.
“I was pleased to be part of the conversation this morning and I have been clear that MGEU members are on the front lines of fighting this pandemic in many, many ways,” Gawronsky said. “Now it’s up to this government to take a look at all the advice they received and make decisions. One thing is clear - the value of the work provided by Manitoba’s public sector workers has never been more apparent, and it’s about time these workers received recognition."
“I am proud of MGEU members and the wide array of contributions they are making to keeping the province going through this pandemic," she added.