Lab technicians ask Premier to be included in 'pandemic pay' for health care workers
OTTAWA -- Lab technicians processing hundreds of COVID-19 tests a day say it was a “devastating blow” to not be included in the Ontario’s Government’s pandemic pay bump for health care workers.
Last month, the Progressive Conservative Government announced the temporary “pandemic pay” for 350,000 health care workers. Staff will receive $4 an hour pay bump for the next 16 weeks, along with a monthly lump sum payment of $250.
Ontario expanded the program to include paramedics, respiratory therapists, public health nurses and all addictions and mental health workers in a congregate setting.
But the Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario says lab technicians and technologists are not on the list of eligible workers for the pay raise.
In a letter to Premier Doug Ford, association CEO Michelle Hoad says “the exclusion of Medical Laboratory Professionals from the list is a devastating blow to our members.”
“We have shared our concerns with the Ministry of Health staff and understand you are currently reassessing the categories, and we hope this was merely an unfortunate oversight.”
Hoad’s letter says throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Medical Laboratory Technologists and Medical Laboratory Assistant/Technicians have been working 24 hours a day, seven days a week to reach the Ontario Government’s target of 14,000 COVID-19 tests per day.
The Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Associations of Ontario says labs entered the pandemic understaffed, and there isn’t enough personnel to cover sick days, vacation and even necessary surgeries. Some workers are working past their planned retirement dates to help process tests.
Speaking on CTV News at Noon with Graham Richardson, Hoad said lab technicians and technologists should be compensated equally with other health care workers.
“It’s seem a little awkward right now, especially on a hospital floor where you have two professions that are working side-by-side, where one group is actually getting the pandemic pay, eventually, and the other group has been excluded.”
The Medical Laboratory Professionals’ Association of Ontario is hopeful the Ontario Government will include lab technicians and technologists in the pandemic pay to recognize their hard work during the pandemic.
“It’s very difficult from our perspective, when we got 44 per cent that are going to be eligible to retire in the next four to eight years, we do not want people considering retirement sooner,” said Hoad on Tuesday afternoon.
“Considering this pandemic, we’re not sure how it’s going to last. We’ve heard that a vaccination could take anywhere from a year to 18 months, we do not want lab professionals retiring early because they’re angry.”