September 23, 2022

An additional $200 million for health workers


File photo: Newly minted registered nurses (left to right) Glenderlin Remey, Afeisha Harroo, Tiffany Dyer, Angelique Nathan and LaToya Joseph as they report for duty at the North West Regional Health Authority on Dundonald Street Port of Spain.

HEALTHCARE workers such as nurses will receive $200 million, in addition to their regular wages/salaries, in recognition of their assistance to the country during the two years of the covid19 pandemic.

The good news was given on Friday by the Minister of Finance, Colm Imbert, in response to a reporter’s question during the Spotlight on the Economy conference organized by his ministry at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in Port of Spain.

“Yes, we have identified the cost. I was in contact with the Minister of Health (Terrence Deyalsingh) just a few days ago.

“It’s going to cost us $200 million, and we’ll find the money for it.”

Trinidad and Tobago Registered Nurses Association (TTRNA) President Idi Stuart welcomed the news, which he said fulfilled the Prime Minister’s promise to healthcare workers.

He told Newsday: “The association is indeed delighted that the Honorable Prime Minister has fulfilled his commitment to the association since 2020.

“We are extremely pleased, given the difficult economic times we find ourselves in, that the Prime Minister has recognized the work of the health sector as deserving. Things are progressing well. »

However, Stuart recalled that other unpaid payments were due to healthcare workers, including raises and gratuities.

He also wanted the government to consider the permanent employment of 3,400 nurses currently on contract. He said the total nursing population in the country was around 7,000, comprising registered nurses (RNs), practical nurses, also called auxiliaries, and orderlies (PCAs).

While unclear how the $200 million would be distributed, he was considering stipends for frontline clinical staff (like nurses and PCAs) at risk of contact with infected patients, rather than administrative staff. , many of whom worked from home. Stuart worried that some healthcare workers hired for the main two-year span of the pandemic had since been sent home, even as several billion-dollar healthcare facilities were now reportedly understaffed, suggesting that the government was implying that it did not have enough money to pay these staff.