Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Thursday that the federal government has reached an agreement "with all the provinces and territories" to give a wage increase to low-income essential workers across Canada. "If you're risking your health to keep this country moving and you're making minimum wage, you deserve a raise," he said. "These Canadians are providing us with essential services, so we can continue to keep our families safe and healthy," the Prime Minister's Office wrote in a statement.

"We are relying on them now more than ever, and that is why the Government of Canada is working with provinces and territories to provide them with a much-needed wage boost."

Further details are forthcoming. 

The Prime Minister explained that "it will be up to each province and territory to determine who exactly qualifies."

Quebec has already announced a wage increase for some of its essential workers to close the gap between their current pay and the amount distributed through the federal Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to individuals whose jobs have been impacted by the health crisis.

How this Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers (IPREW) will work with the wage increase announced Thursday by Trudeau is unclear.

First announced on April 3, the IPREW will distribute $100 for "each week of qualifying work" to those making $550 or less in gross wages per week.

"This means that, in addition to their wages, a worker could receive a taxable benefit of $400 per month, for a total of $1,600" over four months, according to the Revenu Québec website.

The Program is applied retroactively as far back as March 15.

Applications open on May 19 on the Revenu Québec website for workers who:

  • "work part-time or full-time in one of the essential service sectors during the program period;

  • "receive gross wages of $550 or less per week;

  • "have an annual employment income of at least $5,000 for 2020;

  • "have a total annual income of no more than $28,600 for 2020;

  • "[are] at least 15 years old when [they] apply for assistance under the IPREW; and

  • "have been resident in Québec on December 31, 2019, and plan to reside in Québec throughout 2020."

The program website further explains that "to receive this assistance for a given week covered by the program, you must not have received amounts under the CERB or the temporary aid for workers program for that same week."

Revenu Québec also notes that "if your eligible employment income is still $550 or less per week despite the new minimum wage" that took effect on May 1, "you remain eligible for the IPREW provided you meet all of the other conditions."

"However, if the new minimum wage pushes your eligible employment income over $550 for a given week, you are not eligible for the IPREW for that week."

The department encourages potential applicants to check its FAQ page often for any additional details.

Stay tuned for more news.

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