Empire, Longo's reinstate lockdown pay amid third COVID wave

Pay increases are being offered to front-line workers in Ontario and parts of Quebec

With the third wave of the COVID pandemic still rising across much of Canada, both Longo’s and Empire (which recently acquired Longo’s), are reintroducing temporary pay increases for its staff.

On Friday, Longo’s—which operates only in Ontario where a stay-home order is in effect for four weeks—announced all permanent front-line staff working in Longo’s stores and distribution centres, and for Grocery Gateway, Central Kitchen and Market Café would be receiving a $2 increase. Assistant store managers, department managers, team leads and supervisors in operating roles will not receive the $2 wage increase, but will receive a special weekly bonus.

Empire, parent company of Sobeys, FreshCo and other banners, confirmed to Global News that it too would be bringing back a “lockdown bonus” for its front-line workers in Ontario and parts of Quebec.

READ: Dollarama, Walmart boost employee pay in light of COVID-19

The large grocery businesses, including Longo's, introduced pay increases for their staff at the start of the pandemic, ending the bonuses by early summer as COVID numbers declined.

Late last fall, Empire brought back bonuses in regions being hardest hit by the second wave of the pandemic. Longo's made a similar move, offering front-line workers increased pay from Dec. 28 to Feb. 15.

“This latest stay-at-home order will hit everyone a little harder, but we know our team members will continue to rise to the challenge as essential workers during this pandemic,” said Anthony Longo, president and CEO of Longo’s, in a statement.

“They have done an incredible job serving our guests and making a difference in their communities and this is one way of showcasing our appreciation. We ask that our guests join us in continuing to show incredible kindness to our team members who are working so hard to keep everyone safe and fed.”

Longo’s also announced it would introduce “paid days off for self-isolation.” Longo's confirmed to Canadian Grocer that employees who need to isolate for COVID-related reasons, will have up to 10 shifts paid for by the company.

In addition, Longo’s said it was introducing flexible scheduling, and expanded access to its employee assistance program.

The pay increase took effect last Thursday (April 8) and will be in place until Ontario ends its projected four-week stay-at-home orders. As of Sunday, neither Metro or Loblaw had made any announcements about matching the pay increases, and neither responded for comment.

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