According to CUPE Saskatchewan, the provincial government has been sitting on funding from the federal government that should be going directly to frontline workers.

Less than half of the $56 million joint provincial/federal wage subsidy fund has been distributed to workers. Phase two of the funding has been announced, but many of the workers who were covered by phase 1 of the subsidy are no longer eligible.

“Our members are working tirelessly to provide care and support to patients, residents, and clients across the province. However, frontline workers in community-based group homes and program support for those living with disabilities, childcare workers, and crisis and transition services workers are being left behind by the Sask. Party this holiday season,” said Judy Henley, president of CUPE Saskatchewan. “Workers at community-based organizations are the lowest paid public sector workers and could have really benefited from the wage top up.”

The federal government pitched in the majority of the funding for the wage top up program, with only $3 million coming from the provincial government.

“I find it troublesome that the provincial government is basically withholding federal dollars from our members who are struggling to make ends meet,” added Henley. “This comes on top of the Sask. Party’s heartless claw backs of funding from people who collected federal pandemic benefits and provincial income assistance at the same time. Their actions make Scrooge seem like a good boss.”

CUPE Saskatchewan is also calling for the wage top up to be extended to all workers providing hands-on care across Saskatchewan.

“It is problematic that both phases of the program have left out many workers, including staff in acute care providing hands-on care for patients with COVID-19, direct government employees providing support to people with intellectual disabilities, and the medical laboratory staff who are processing thousands of COVID-19 test results every day,” said Henley. “Frontline workers have shown incredible dedication, commitment, and courage throughout this pandemic. This holiday season, I hope the Sask. Party government will have a change of heart and stop excluding dedicated public service providers from the eligibility for wage top up.”