The Quebec government is giving low-wage workers an extra incentive to stay on the job during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finance Minister Eric Girard announced Friday the province will give up to $100 extra weekly to cashiers, grocery stockers, delivery people and everyone else who keeps the province running.
Girard said the program is meant to ensure that those essential workers will earn more by working than by applying for the federal government's emergency benefits program (CERB), which provides Canadians struggling financially with $2,000 a month.
The new program will be retroactive to March 15, for a maximum of 16 weeks.
Workers can apply for this benefit through Revenu Québec's website starting May 19, and the direct deposits will start on May 27.
Roughly 600,000 workers will be eligible, and the program will cost an estimated $890 million.
With this compensation, the worker will obtain, in addition to their wages, a taxable lump sum of $400 per month, or $1,600 for a period of 16 weeks.
Applicants to the program must:
- Work in an essential service.
- Earn less than $550 gross per week.
- Have an annual work income of at least $5,000, and a total annual income of $28,600 or less.
Jean Boulet, the province's labour minister, said the new program is meant to send a message to workers that their contribution is important.
"The circumstances are very extraordinary," he said.
"It's extremely important that we say to those essential workers that they have to keep working. It's fundamental to Quebecers."
The list of jobs eligible for the additional payment can be found on the province's website.