Filipinos working in Vancouver’s healthcare sector asking for wage increases amid pandemic

VANCOUVER — Many Filipino Canadian frontliners in the lower mainland used to work double jobs shuttling from one senior home to another for extra income.

But with the COVID-19 outbreak, they’ve been limited to work at only one site, greatly reducing their take-home pay.

“Most of us work two jobs, cause we really, we need to survive, we have our family to survive and losing that one site, it kind of crippled us,” said Connie Almadin.

The government announced a 16-week pandemic pay for frontline workers — a $4 per hour increase effective March 15, which some workers have yet to receive.

Although healthcare workers welcomed the temporary increase, laboratory technician Dexter Basbas said it would be better if government just give back the 15% penalty that’s been levied on them since 2002.

“That 15% that was taken from everybody, it goes back. Plus what everybody is getting right now. Kasi we fell so far behind, it doesn’t match with inflation.”

He added they also have members working in hospital support services — who receive less than the $2,000 Canada Emergency relief benefit given to laid-off workers.

For those doing food delivery and housekeeping work for private companies, rven if their services are considered essential amid the pandemic, they said their wages still have not improved.

“That would be nice if something comes from the government for us, just like what they give to supermarket workers. But so far, they’re not saying anything.”

Meanwhile, Mojica hopes they will be brought back “inhouse” soon, so that support service workers will get better wages and benefits.

They stressed it’s high time government gives them fair pay for their sacrifices.

“I personally felt we’re left behind. With all the hard work that we did, I think we should be, the government can work on making a better decision on compensating us, and again, having that one-site work, one-site policy, we’ve lost a lot, too.”

“You consider us essential, you think our work is important, so put your money where your mouth is.”

Currently, some 80% of hospital workers in BC are Filipinos, while the figure is slightly less in long-term care facilities at 50%.

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