The MPP for Windsor West is calling on the provincial government to include several classifications of frontline health-care workers who currently do not qualify for pandemic pay.
Currently, workers such as lab technologists, social workers and x-ray technologists don't qualify for pandemic pay. It gives eligible workers an additional four dollars an hour on top of their regular wage, in addition to $250 per month for everyone working more than 100 hours a month.
But Allison Hearn, an ambutation assistant whose job is to get recovering patients moving again, said her ineligibility for pandemic pay makes her feel "not appreciated" by the provincial government.
"My role is not a nurse, so the care I gave to each one of these positive COVID patients doesn't matter," said Hearn, who worked at the COVID-19 field hospital at the St. Clair College SportsPlex.
"I put myself at risk each and every day. To work with these positive COVID patients was mentally and physically exhausting each week. But I went into work because I knew my patients needed me."
NDP MPP Lisa Gretzky said her office has been inundated with calls from workers who do qualify for pandemic pay but have not yet received it.
She's also calling for workers like Hearn to be added to the list of eligible recipients and backdate her boosted earnings to the start of the pandemic.
"When they introduced the pandemic pay, it was not retroactive back to the beginning of the pandemic. The government picked some arbitrary date to begin from," said Gretzky.
The pandemic pay initiative lasts for 16 weeks, from April 24 to Aug. 13.
In a statement to CBC News, the provincial government said it is working to move funds to employers "as quickly as possible and are expediting the work required to get this money into the paycheques of eligible employees across the province."
"To be clear, this pay will be provided retroactively for work performed from April 24, 2020 to August 13, 2020 and the workers who are eligible will get it," said Hayden Kenez, deputy director of communications for the province's treasury board.
In response to Gretzky's criticism of leaving many health-care workers out of being eligible for pandemic pay, the province said there is a limit to the amount of funding provided by the federal government.
Kenez added that expanding the pandemic pay program "beyond the over 375,000 employees already deemed eligible" just isn't possible.
"As Premier Ford has said, we wish we could provide pandemic pay to every single frontline worker who has contributed to the fight against COVID-19."