Government announces Risk Recognition payments to go out this week
Jul 29, 2020
The government announced today that 78,000 Manitoba workers will receive a direct deposit of $1,377 this week as part of the province's Risk Recognition Program.
To qualify for the program, public-facing workers could make no more than $5,000 per month, or $12,500 during the 2 1/2-month eligibility period between March 20 and May 29. Overtime pay was excluded from the calculations.
“After no updates or information from government for over a month after the application deadline, I’m pleased for those Manitobans who met the eligibility requirements and will finally be enjoying some financial relief,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “But the sad reality is the program is leaving out many, many others who put themselves, and by extension their families, at risk during this difficult time.”
She said the eligibility criteria chosen by the government excludes a wide variety of workers who have been working on the frontlines and behind the scenes to keep Manitoba going through the pandemic. For example, the government’s chosen option excludes many health care workers, correctional officers, and social workers.
“Despite the government’s claim that the eligibility criteria were based on a consensus of stakeholders, the MGEU did not at any point sign off on this version of the program,” Gawronsky said. “We wrote letters, made phone calls, did all we could to make it clear that all those who worked on the front lines through the pandemic should be eligible. But in the end, this government paid no attention.”
In total, the province received more than 90,000 applications from workers in a variety of sectors. Of the recipients, 37,060 work in retail and lodging, 27,085 in health care, 9,325 in social services and 3,440 in transportation.
“When all is said and done, while these payments are welcome for those deemed eligible, they are no substitute for fair collective bargaining.” Gawronsky added. “Most public workers in this province who’ve been working through the pandemic are working under expired contracts. If the government wants to show workers some fairness and respect, they should get back to the bargaining table with us.”