REGINA -- The provincial government is increasing salaries of vulnerable citizens who are working throughout the COVID-19 pandemic with a $400 per month temporary wage supplement.

“This benefit is being provided to recognize the important contribution that these workers are making by going to work and supporting our most vulnerable residents at this challenging time,” said Premier Scott Moe.

Workers who earn less that $2,500 per month, and work at senior care homes (including private care homes and home care), group homes run by community-based organizations, licensed childcare facilities and emergency and transition shelters will be eligible for the wage. The province is estimating this will impact about 35,000 workers.

“The intent is to support those that are supporting the most vulnerable, so that is seniors and individuals with disabilities,” said Donna Harpauer, the Minister of Finance.

Eligible workers include full-time and part-time caregivers, cooks and cleaners at the facilities.

The wage supplement will run for up to 16 weeks from March 15 to July 4 and will consist of a flat $400 per month payment.

Provincial opposition leader Ryan Meili said the funding should have come sooner, but he supports the benefit.

“It’s absolutely necessary here as we’ve got people working with higher risk and higher stress and more difficulty during this time, as well as higher cost,” said Meili.

The application process will be detailed in the days ahead.

The cost of the new wage supplement will be shared with the federal government at an estimated total cost of $56 million.