Opinion: Burnaby nurse furious she’s left waiting for ‘pandemic pay’

Chris Campbell

The subject line of the email from “Sue the nurse” reads “pissed healthcare worker.”

“Pissed” as in angry – angry at her treatment by her bosses. I can’t blame her.

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Sue the nurse (I’m keeping her name private due to fear of retribution from management) is a Burnaby health-care worker who has been treated pretty shabbily by the government. And, it appears, she’s not the only health care worker treated this way.

Front-line health workers were promised $4-per-hour “pandemic pay” to acknowledge the tremendous risks people such as nurses were taking.

According to a May 20 post on the BC Nurses’ Union website, the pay is to cover a 16-week period retroactive to March 15.

All these months later, Sue has not received the “pandemic pay” and she’s pretty furious about it.

“I have been going to work and caring for positive Covid-19 patients since this pandemic began in March,” she said. “I put myself and my family at risk every day because caring for sick people is my job. And someone has to be there to do it. But I’m pissed (the pay hasn’t arrived) … And yet my 18-year-old niece who lives at home and has no bills to pay whatsoever has been getting $2,000 per month from CERB direct deposited in her account every month like clockwork. How does this make sense?”

I contacted the BCNU and they confirmed that not all nurses have received the “pandemic pay” yet and it’s being handled by each health authority. In Burnaby, it’s Fraser Health.

According to a BCNU spokesperson, “rumour has it this pay will be handed out in late September or early October.”

Incredible. Like, what are you waiting for?

“Everyone else is getting real money,” Sue said. “And paid days off to stay home. And what do us health-care workers get? Nothing. Except hearts on windows and banging pots and pans at 7 p.m.  Excuse me for being a bit mad. … And don’t get me wrong. We appreciate all the support and the love. I don’t want to sound unappreciative. But after weeks and weeks of stress with no end in sight, (and facing) a second wave here now, we are burnt out and the government and our employers are not taking care of us.”

And now even the hearts and banging of pots has stopped. So maybe the employers can get their act together and pay what they promised.

Follow Chris Campbell on Twitter @shinebox44.

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