Manitoba employers offered incentives to hire vaccinated workers

But CFIB concerned about ‘potential unintended consequences’ for employers that don’t participate

Manitoba employers offered incentives to hire vaccinated workers
Manitoba employers can apply for up to $50,000 to help cover the wages of new employees who can attest they have been vaccinated or will be vaccinated.

A move by Manitoba to support the safe reopening of businesses is being met with criticism by at least one industry group.

The province is introducing a $30-million Healthy Hire Manitoba Program, a new wage support to help private sector employers reopen and encourage employees to get vaccinated and return to work.

The program “will incentivize employers to safely bring more employees back to work and encourage more Manitobans to get fully vaccinated,” says Premier Brian Pallister.

“As we emerge from this third wave towards a post-pandemic Manitoba with fewer restrictions and more freedoms, our focus remains on getting all eligible Manitobans fully vaccinated, as quickly and safely as possible,” he says. “This new wage support will help ensure a smooth and steady reopening path and support employers as they staff up to offer Manitobans the goods and services they rely on and enjoy most.”

Under the program, local employers can apply for up to $50,000 in provincial support to help cover the wages of new employees who can attest they have been vaccinated or will be vaccinated. Eligible employers will receive a grant equivalent to 50 per cent of wages for up to 10 employees, with a maximum of $5,000 per employee. The wage support covers full pay periods for employees hired on or after June 10, 2021, with the last pay period ending Oct. 15.

The program is available for newly hired employees who started working no earlier than June 10 or a rehired employee who worked for that employer in a previous year or who was laid off because of public health restrictions.

In May, Manitoba launched a new Pandemic Sick Leave program to provide direct financial assistance to workers.

Concerns about vaccination requirement

However, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is concerned about “potential unintended consequences” for employers that don’t participate.

“We understand having people vaccinated is a goal of this government, but business owners should not be made responsible for who is getting vaccinated,” say Dan Kelly, CFIB’s president, and Jonathan Alward, CFIB’s director for the Prairie region, in a release.

“CFIB is apprehensive about the obstacles employers may face if the government of Manitoba forces them to hire staff based on their vaccination status.”

Canadian HR Reporter recently spoke with Neena Gupta, a labour lawyer at Gowlings in Waterloo, Ont., about what employers can and cannot do when it comes to vaccines.

Manitoba small business owners need a rehiring program that is easy to use and without restrictions to help hire staff and get their business’ fully open, they say.

“Dropping this hiring requirement would help the Healthy Hire Manitoba Program provide exactly the help that many employers need.”

Manitoba has also invested $25 million through a new Manitoba Youth Jobs Program and existing Green Team grants to support more than 8,000 youth employment opportunities this summer.

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