Nova Scotia

COVID bonus money flowing to some health workers, delayed for others

Although bonus pay for some essential health-care workers involved in Nova Scotia's COVID-19 response has already gone out, others are still waiting because some employers were slower to submit claims.

Eligible workers could received up to $2,000 based on involvement in COVID effort

The province's Health Department is still reviewing the application from Northwood for essential worker bonus pay. (Robert Short/CBC)

Although bonus pay for some essential health-care workers involved in Nova Scotia's COVID-19 response has already gone out, others will have to wait beyond the anticipated arrival date to get their money.

In May, the province announced it had reached a deal with the federal government to provide up to $2,000 for front-line and other workers who were part of the COVID-19 response from mid-March through to mid-July (up to $500 per month).

Ottawa put $80.5 million toward the effort, while Nova Scotia chipped in with $13.4 million. The approach was not universally popular, with some people believing the province should have focused more on low-wage earners, as other provinces did.

The expectation was the money would begin flowing by the end of September or beginning of October, however there have been some delays because some employers were late submitting their claims to the Nova Scotia Health Department.

On Wednesday, a spokesperson for the province said to date about 88 per cent of the claims from qualifying employers have been received. Some of those, including the claim from the Northwood, which runs the Halifax long-term care facility where 53 residents died from COVID, were received more recently and are still being reviewed, Marla MacInnis said in an email.

Employers distribute money

MacInnis said some employers made the payments to their employees before receiving the funding from the department, while others could be waiting until the government money comes through before passing it on.

"It's important to remember that employers are distributing the benefit to their employees," she said. "How [and] when employees receive their benefit is dependent on employers' payroll systems and timing, so we are unable to provide to-date numbers."

When the program was announced in May, it was billed as a pay top up for people who faced the greatest risk, as well as workers who helped with containment efforts.

Eligible employees included front-line health-care workers, employees working in residential programs of the disabilities support program, shelter workers and transition house employees.

It also included publicly funded continuing care providers, paramedics, 811 staff, laboratory staff and various staff within the Nova Scotia Health Authority and IWK Health Centre.

Employers were required to have eligible employees complete a declaration form stating the periods they worked on front-line care and that they have not applied for or received any payment or benefit from the program from any other employer.