COVID danger pay tops $6.5 million

Graphic by Melanie Risdon/the Western Standard

Figures show the Canadian military paid out more than $6 million in COVID-19 danger pay, said Blacklock’s Reporter.

“Armed Forces members face the physical hardship of spending all of their shifts wearing the full complement of personal protective equipment for up to 12-hours a day without applicable breaks in service,” the Department of National Defence said in a statement.

“Moreover, our women and men in the military served in these facilities for months while being away from their families during a highly challenging time.”

Soldiers reassigned as nursing home attendants were given the same hazard bonus as members of bomb disposal units.

The Treasury Board advised the Senate National Finance committee payments of a $78-per-day hazard allowance totalled $6.45 million covering a period of time between March 11, 2020, to last September 30.  

“Canadian Armed Forces’ longstanding exceptional hazard allowance provides financial compensation for members required to perform disposal procedures on explosive devices or extremely hazardous chemicals,” wrote staff.

“The Treasury Board approved a temporary addition to the allowance to include military members performing assigned duties in a location or environment where a high risk of exposure to COVID-19 exists, such as a long-term care facility or mobile field hospital.”

“In the initial period of the COVID hazard allowance ending on Sep. 30, 2020 the Canadian Armed Forces paid 1,452 members exposed to a high-risk environment for a total expenditure of $3.18 million,” the equivalent of $2190 each, the board told senators.

In 2020, reservists and regular military personnel were reassigned by the feds to pandemic relief duties. The military was requested in Ontario and Quebec to help staff nursing homes and Canadian Rangers were deployed to Nunavik and northern Saskatchewan.

Total expenses were pegged at $456 million in a 2020 report by the Parliamentary Budget Office, while the military’s estimate of the ongoing COVID-19 response expenses to date was $355 million.

The Commons defence committee was told at a 2020 hearing thousands of military personnel were redeployed amid shortages of COVID-19 masks, medical gowns and gloves. In some cases military members used date-expired personal protective equipment.

“There was one stock of nitrile gloves that reached their expiry date and had required certification before being issued to members, and that was only after our health services and medical folks determined the materiel was still compliant,” said Major General Marc Bilodeau, surgeon general for the Canadian Armed Forces.

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