Financial aid is on the way for some Quebec essential workers. Through the Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers (IPREW), first announced on April 3, those making $550 or less in gross wages per week can apply to receive an additional $100 for "each week of qualifying work" dating back to March 15, according to the Revenu Québec website. "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.

Premier François Legault presented the IPREW as a way to close the gap between the $2,000/month Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for individuals whose jobs have been impacted by the current crisis and the pay for workers who make less than that.

"We talk a lot about our guardian angels, and rightly so, but we also have a lot of people who provide essential services that are not always very well paid," he said on April 3.

"I am thinking, among others, of cashiers in supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies. I am thinking of all those who deliver."

"Basically, what we are proposing is to increase the salaries of these people [...] whom I thank from the bottom of my heart for the work they do under difficult conditions."

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;

  • "be at least 15 years old when you 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 notes 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."

Eligible workers have to register for direct deposit through their Revenu Québec personal online accounts.

"The first payment will be made on May 27, 2020."

Applications close after November 15.

Revenu Québec encourages potential applicants to check its FAQ page often for any additional details.

On April 15, the Government of Quebec also confirmed that the general minimum wage is still set to increase on May 1 to $13.10/hour.

Jean Boulet, the Minister of Labour, Employment, and Social Solidarity, first made the announcement in December, but reiterated the commitment Wednesday to "help mobilize workers, especially in the current context."

"We want these workers to know how grateful we are and how much we appreciate the work they do," he said.

Stay tuned for more news.

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