Saskatchewan

CUPE Sask. president says wage bump for low-income essential workers should be permanent

A recent temporary wage top-up for essential workers in Saskatchewan is not enough, according to the president of CUPE Saskatchewan.

Low-income employees who work with vulnerable people given $400 per month for 16 weeks

CUPE Saskatchewan president Judy Henley says many workers lack sufficient PPE, on top of being underpaid. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

A recent temporary wage top-up for essential workers in Saskatchewan is not enough, according to the president of CUPE Saskatchewan.

The Saskatchewan government recently announced that employees making less than $2,500 a month while working in a field with vulnerable people are eligible for a wage top-up of $400 per month for 16 weeks. The federal government gave $53 million for the program, with the province adding $3 million more. 

CUPE Saskatchewan president Judy Henley said Tuesday that the province needs to do more. 

"These wages shouldn't be temporary," Henley said on CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning. "These measures should be permanent."

Henley said that if the government is acknowledging these workers are not paid enough, it should also acknowledge they have been underpaid for far too long.

Many essential workers have to have more than one job, said Henley. 

"They can't afford to stay with one job because of their wages where they work," she said. 

"They deserve a living wage, not something that puts them at almost the poverty level."

Henley said the COVID-19 pandemic has created dangerous work environments for some essential workers. Some have little or no personal protection equipment (PPE), she said. 

"Many of us have the ability to work remotely and not be exposed. These workers are being exposed," Henley said. "You can't social distance when you're taking care of a child." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ntawnis Piapot is Nehiyaw Iskwew from Piapot Cree Nation. She has a journalism degree from the University of Regina, and is a graduate from the INCA Media and Intercultural Leadership Program from the First Nations University. Ntawnis has been a reporter for CBC Saskatchewan, APTN National News, CTV Regina, VICE News, J-Source and Eagle Feather News. Email: ntawnis.piapot@cbc.ca

with files from CBC Radio's Saskatoon Morning

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