The leader of the official Opposition in New Brunswick is calling the rate of pay for medical professionals joining the province’s COVID-19 vaccination efforts “unfair” to health-care workers who have been fighting the pandemic since it started.
In a memo dated Jan. 19, obtained by Global News, the Department of Health said dentists, chiropractors and veterinarians have been deemed “able to vaccinate in RHA clinics, with some additional training provided by the Regional Health Authorities.”
The memo goes on to say the professionals would be “eligible to be paid the general sessional rate (currently $ 142.80 per hour).”
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Liberal Leader Roger Melanson took to Twitter Tuesday to say he was “shocked” at the rate of pay offered by the government, “when they asked retired nurses to volunteer their services. This is unacceptable, everyone who steps up to help should be treated equally. ”
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard said compensation depends on the occupation.
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“I can tell you, absolutely, that every professional working on behalf of the regional health authorities is being compensated at the rate that their profession normally dictates,” Shephard said.
The pay rate for New Brunswick nurses was up to $ 39.57 per hour according to the most recent figures on the Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions website, which were attributed to a contract that expired in 2018.
That means dentists and chiropractors could be getting more than three times the pay to do the same vaccination work.
The New Brunswick Nurses Union declined to comment. Nurses in the province just ratified a new collective agreement last month, but salary figures have not yet been made public.
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In an email to Global News, New Brunswick Dental Society executive director Paul Blanchard said information about the government’s vaccination program has been distributed to its members. He said he’s not sure how many have signed up so far.
“Any dentist volunteering to provide vaccinations would probably be doing so at vaccine clinics that are open weekends or during evening hours, unless they close their practice or hire another dentist to work for them that day,” Blanchard said. “We expect a few recently retired dentists will be involved.”
Shephard said the government will take as many professional volunteers as possible for vaccinations.
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