Walmart Canada to give 85,000 workers cash 'appreciation' bonus as COVID-19 surges

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — Walmart Canada announced new cash bonuses for its workers on Friday, saying the "appreciation bonus payment" recognizes their ongoing dedication during the pandemic.

The move follows similar announcements made by other companies in recent weeks and could put pressure on more retailers to offer so-called hero pay to essential workers as the second wave of COVID-19 worsens.

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Walmart said more than 85,000 employees will receive the additional payment on Dec. 11, with full-time staff expected to receive $250 while part-time staff would receive $150.

Horacio Barbeito, president and CEO of Walmart Canada, said the store's associates have stepped up "in true Walmart spirit" to serve customers during extraordinary times.

"Every day, I hear stories about our associates going above and beyond and I am proud and grateful," he said in a statement.

"It continues to be a privilege and a tremendous responsibility to be providing an essential service for our communities."

In March, the company had provided workers with an appreciation bonus of $200 for full-time workers and $100 for part-timers. It also paid a "thank you premium" of $2 an hour on top of regular hourly rates for workers in April and May.

The announcement by Walmart Canada that it would pay a December bonus comes a day after Walmart in the U.S. said it would be giving its 1.5 million workers a special bonus.

Pressure has been mounting on essential retailers on both sides of the border to reinstate hero pay or extend bonuses to employees working during the busy holiday season.

UFCW Canada, one of the country's largest private-sector unions, has called on grocery stores to reinstate the $2-an-hour wage bump for its front-line workers, saying the hero pay acknowledges their courageous efforts.

Sobeys said last week it was bringing back pay premiums for workers in locations where lockdowns are in effect.

Parent company Empire Company Limited said it had reinstated so-called hero pay in Manitoba, Toronto and the Peel Region in Ontario as rising cases of the virus in those areas have prompted the shutdown of non-essential businesses.

Each week, eligible employees will receive between $10 and $100 extra, depending on how many hours they work and how long the government lockdowns last.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 4, 2020.

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