Nunavut government announces COVID-19 wage top-up for essential workers
Workers making less than $20 an hour eligible for extra $5 per hour
Starting next week, the Government of Nunavut will top up wages for eligible essential workers across the territory through a new program.
The program, dubbed the Nunavut Essential Workers Wage Premium, will launch on June 1, George Hickes, Nunavut’s finance minister, announced at a news conference this morning.
“The Government of Nunavut will fund eligible employers to pay their lower paid workers more for the hours they work,” Hickes said.
That means workers making less than $20 an hour will be able to receive an extra $5 per hour, Hickes said. Workers making between $20 and $25 per hour will also receive a top-up to bring their wages to $25 an hour.
Funding for eligible employers will be available for a period of 16 weeks, starting on June 1 and will also be made retroactive to May 1.
For now, the program will be available to employers who provide “health and social services to vulnerable Nunavummiut,” Hickes said.
That includes people who work in shelters, group homes, food banks and boarding homes.
The funding will also be available to licensed daycare facilities in the territory, Hickes said.
Hickes said the GN might also expand the program, which will be administered through the Department of Finance, to other employers in the future.
“The Government of Nunavut will consider expanding eligibility to employers in other sectors depending on program uptake and funding availability,” Hickes said.
Hickes said more information on how to apply and the details of the program will be available this coming Monday, June 1.
“Application forms and more information about this program will be available on the Department of Finance’s website on Monday. I strongly encourage employers in the sectors I mentioned to apply for the essential workers wage premium,” he said.
Hickes did not provide an exact dollar figure for how much the program would cost the government, but he said the GN received funding from the federal government to administer it.
“The federal government had announced a wage subsidy program, we’ll say more suited to southern Canada.… So the federal government has allowed us some flexibility of accessing that program to modify it to fit Nunavut’s programs or needs with co-operation from the federal government,” Hickes said.
Dr. Michael Patterson, Nunavut’s chief public health officer, also announced today that Nunavut’s public health emergency is extended until June 11. According to territorial legislation, the emergency order expires every two weeks.