Northern and NorthMart staff to get pay bump for working through pandemic

Grocery store staff for The North West Company will get a slight pay bump for working during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

All workers considered front-line, such as cashiers, stock clerks, and pharmacy staff, will make an extra $2 an hour, the company announced Monday in a news release. 

The company had previously announced a 60-day price freeze as part of their pandemic response.

"It's really a thank you to them because our stores have been really busy," said Alex Yeo, president of Canadian retail for The North West Company.

Northwest Company

Yeo says the raise represents a 10 to 15 per cent increase for most staff. For now, it will remain in place until the end of March. Depending on how the situation with COVID-19 progresses, the company may consider extending the pay bump or even increasing it, said Yeo.

"They have been working really hard to serve our customers," said Yeo. 

All Northern stores and NorthMarts have put in extra precautions to keep staff and customers safe while shopping, such as sanitizing carts and surfaces around check out counters, as well as encouraging social distancing from customers and other employees.

"All stores are empowered to do some sort of phone delivery," said Yeo. 

According to a Facebook post, Iqaluit's NorthMart will be taking grocery delivery orders for people most in need, including elders, immunocompromised people, and those in mandatory self isolation. 

Orders will be taken from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. Monday through Friday by calling 867-979-3511. 

Shelves will stay stocked

Yeo said The North West Company is working with supplier and government services to ensure shelves in all stores stay stocked. 

"Just like all southern retailers, our supply chain is strong,' said Yeo. 

"We've talked to all of our vendors and they understand the importance of service in the North. So they have committed to prioritizing us in their supply chain." 

Yeo says the company has been in contact with territorial governments and freight partners to ensure communities will receive their orders. 

Jackie Mckay/CBC