Some of Canada's grocery chains are reinstating pay increases or offering employees one-time bonuses, as the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic continues across the country.
This week Empire Co., Canada's second-largest grocery chain that includes Sobeys, Foodland and Farm Boy, confirmed it would re-introduce a temporary lockdown bonus program in Ontario and Quebec, providing employees between $10 and $100 more per week, depending on how many hours they work. For example, an employee who works 40 hours a week would receive a $100 bonus for that week.
"Fundamentally, we believe this is the right thing to do," a spokesperson for the company said in an emailed statement.
Sobeys is not alone. Longo's, an Ontario-based grocery chain that operates 36 locations across the Greater Toronto Area, announced last week it would provide its workers with a $2 per hour pay increase for at least four weeks. The pay bump is for both part-time and full-time employees.
"In light of the stay-at-home order, we recognize the incredible dedication of our team members who continue to provide an essential service to our guests," the company said on Twitter. "Thank you for everything."
Metro will also offer frontline employees working in its retail stores and distribution centres a bonus in the form of a gift card for use at the grocery chain. The gift cards will be valued at either $75, $150 or $300, depending on the whether employees are part-time or full-time employees, and will be distributed to 45,000 employees in May. The company previously offered gift cards to employees in December and February.
Loblaw, Canada's largest grocery chain, did not respond to a request for comment regarding whether the company will increase employee pay.
Canada's top grocery stores – Loblaw, Metro and Empire-owned Sobeys – had offered employees $2 pay raises in the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, but then faced public backlash last summer after ending the programs on the same day. Executives from Loblaw, Metro and Sobeys had to testify in front of a House of Commons committee last year over the decision to scrap the pay raises, reiterating that the cancellations were made independently.
Alicja Siekierska is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow her on Twitter @alicjawithaj.