Vernon care aide says late pandemic pay will impact this Christmas | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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Vernon care aide says late pandemic pay will impact this Christmas

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December 16, 2020 - 7:29 AM

Every working day, care aides in long term care homes in B.C. work long and difficult hours looking after other people’s ailing parents.

In May, the provincial government promised them and other front-line health care workers an extra $4 an hour in pandemic pay for hours worked between March 15 and July 4.

To date, only about half have received that pay.

“We are short staffed, underpaid and we give our all to other people's mothers and fathers and in return are treated like we are less than any other person,” a woman who works as a care aide in a Vernon long term care home wrote in an email to iNFOnews.ca. She did not want her name published for fear of retaliation.

“Without this extra little bit there isn't a Christmas present for my grandchildren,” she wrote. “I, however, will be looking after other families’ grandparents and parents.”

In a phone interview she said she’s often the sole care aide working on a unit with more than 30 dementia patients at night.

“That means 13 (diaper) changes, and that’s just the ones that stay in bed and pee themselves, not to mention those that wander around and pee anywhere,” she said.

“We are so off balance, it’s ridiculous,” she said. “People are trying to work 16 hours a day trying to pay their rent in the Okanagan.”

She works about 190 hours a month, which means she’s owed more than $4,500.

She has talked to the manager of the home where she works and was told that all the paperwork has been sent to the government and they’re waiting to get the money so they can pay her.

“Employees who have not yet received their additional pay are understandably frustrated,” states an email from the Ministry of Health to iNFOnews.ca. “The ministry apologizes for these delays.”

Employers had until the end of October to send in their paperwork and, since then, 134,000 workers have been paid a total of $211 million. But more than 250,000 are eligible for the extra pay, the email said.

“Delays are largely due to administrative complexities associated with distributing a new program to more than 250,000 employees working for hundreds of different employers,” it states. “Despite the challenges of distributing a new program to employees, it should not have taken this long.”

A special government team has been formed and resources have been increased to clear the “bottleneck,“ the email states.

“The ministry anticipates nearly all of the remaining claims will be processed by the end of January,” it concludes.

Which is a little too late for Christmas presents.


To contact a reporter for this story, email Rob Munro or call 250-808-0143 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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