October 7th, 2020

Armstrong: Health care heroes should not be forced to return the pandemic pay they deserve

QUEEN’S PARK – NDP MPP Teresa Armstrong (London–Fanshawe) has asked the health minister to explain why London Health Sciences (LHSC) frontline workers were given the pandemic pay they deserve only to be told they were not eligible after all and are now on the hook to pay it back.

“Susan and Christine are health care heroes who have been working as clerical staff at LHSC throughout the pandemic. They both work on the front line and have daily face-to-face interactions with patients and were glad to hear that they would be eligible for pandemic pay. However, after they received their first payment, they were informed by hospital HR that, not only were they no longer eligible, but they were now on the line to pay back what they had received,” Armstrong said.

“Susan and Christine are not alone. Just at LHSC, dozens of employees have been asked to return the pandemic pay they received all because of this government's refusal to properly fund the program. Will this government commit to ensuring that all front line workers are eligible for pandemic pay and that no worker is forced to pay back what they've already received?,” asked Armstrong during question period at the legislature Wednesday.

Armstrong told that minister that the reason dozens of employees have been asked to return the pandemic pay is because of the Ministry of Health's failure to communicate. LHSC based their payments on a Ministry of Health-approved list they received in April. Months later, the ministry followed up with a new list. This time with exceptions which excluded front line workers like Susan and Christine.

“Will this government right their wrong and not force staff to pay back the pandemic pay they received?,” asked Armstrong.


Susan Murphy, LHSC employee

"During the pandemic I had contact with a sick patient who we later found out had COVID-19. I was sent home to quarantine for two weeks. I don’t see how that risk is ignored and why I have been excluded from the pandemic pay despite working on the front line throughout the pandemic.”

Christine Decosta, LHSC employee

"My whole entire job is front line, face-to-face patient contact. As an employee for 37 years doing the same work the whole time I feel I deserve to have this matter looked into."