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LETTER: Who says which healthcare workers are deserving of top ups?

Care aide critical of how province pays special COVID wage increase to public not private workers

Dear Editor,

I’m writing in hope to shed some light on a current situation.

I am a health care aide, in a long-term care facility – in our community.

I have been for 10 years.

The government released an amazing article that all healthcare workers such as care aides, nurses, RTs, etc would be receiving back pay for working during COVID-19.

They stated that they would be giving a $4 an hour top up to our wages and it would be back paid from March 16 – when this pandemic really hit us.

Wow, sounds great right?

RELATED: Pandemic pay’ to give temporary wage top-up to 250,000 B.C. frontline workers

Honestly as a care aide, I’m used to being shafted by the public and our government.

I have worked in all areas of this field. I’ve worked at our hospital, I’ve worked for home care. I’ve worked for government long-term care facilities and private.

I feel like I’ve seen all sides to the spectrum.

Now, more than ever, we are seeing how little our long-term care facilities get in terms of staffing, support and supplies.

So, when the government came out with this great big plan, how could we not get excited?

Now we find out that they are only giving this “heroes pay” to government facilities.

Punch to the gut.

So as a private health care aide, who worked day and night, overtime included – during a COVID-19 outbreak, to hear that I’m not “good enough” (for lack of a better phrase) to be eligible for this pay increase, is such a slap in the face.

You’re telling me that, I have to follow the Fraser health guidelines, I need to follow all the government protocols, etc. But, I am not eligible for the same pay increase?

We do the exact same job, we follow the exact same procedures, we follow the same health guidelines, we work the same hours, we did the same schooling – yet I am not eligible?

I get up every morning, doing the same care on my residents, wear my PPE – which includes googles that are very difficult to do my job in.

I get up the same amount of residents and do their daily care, and meet their daily needs, I’m there for them for support, to help feed, to be there for them when their families are not able to. Yet, I am not eligible for this too?

Why is it any different than if I worked in a government-owned facility?

I make less money per hour working at a private care home.

And while you’re reading and thinking – well then work at a government facility, there problem solved – its not that simple.

First off, I have worked for two long-term care facilities that are government owned and I’ve worked for the hospital.

I probably won’t ever do that again.

The residents felt like numbers and not people. That’s not what I became a care aide for.

While I make less money per hour at a private care home – that is the choice I made, so that I could actually care for my residents, so I could know them, so I could know their families, and their likes and dislikes.

I chose this because I want to make a difference in a seniors life. That’s why I went to school.

And this is not a slam against government healthcare workers -–they work very hard, are understaffed, as are we – that’s nothing new, and deserve this [top up] as much as we do.

I think what I’m trying to get across is, why them and not us?

I worked during COVID and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done as a care aide.

I would leave work in tears, almost daily during our outbreak.

I would be dehydrated and exhausted, over worked and under paid.

So why are myself and my fellow private long-term care facility workers being snubbed?

Why are places that haven’t even had to work with the virus, getting a lump sum of back pay, where private care facility workers who have put their lives on the line working directly with COVID, are getting nothing?

How is it fair that you’re basically saying one is better than the other, one is more deserving that the other.

Who decides who is more deserving?

Jennifer Andreasen, Maple Ridge

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• If there is more to this issue, please let us know about it. Email us at editor@mapleridgenews.com. We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter.

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