May 7, 2020 / 3:52 PM / 20 days ago

Canada, provinces agree to boost wages of essential workers - Trudeau

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau wears a protective face mask as he attends a repatriation ceremony for the six Canadian Forces personnel killed in a military helicopter crash in the Mediterranean, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, at Canadian Forces Base in Trenton, Ontario, Canada May 6, 2020. Frank Gunn/Pool via REUTERS

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada and the 10 provinces have agreed to increase pay for essential workers such as those working in seniors’ residences, where many coronavirus cases have occurred, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

“Workers are risking their health to provide us with essential care and services, and we need to make sure that they are paid properly for the work they do every day,” he told a daily briefing.

Ottawa will contribute C$3 billion ($2.1 billion), representing 75% percent of the total cost of the increased wages, the government said in a statement. Trudeau earlier told reporters the amount was C$4 billion.

The provinces will be responsible for determining who is essential and how much they receive, he added.

Canada’s military is increasing its support of long-term care homes in Quebec, the province hardest hit by the coronavirus, and aims to have more than 1,350 members in 25 different homes in coming days, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan said on Thursday.

The total number of coronavirus-related deaths in Canada rose by just over 4% to 4,280 on Thursday from 4,111 a day earlier, the public health agency said, further evidence that the outbreak has peaked. The number of positive diagnoses edged up to 63,895 from 62,458.

($1=1.3997 Canadian dollars)

Reporting by David Ljunggren and Steve Scherer; Editing by Bill Berkrot

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