Union leaders across the country applauded the federal government on Thursday for contributing up to $3 billion to help boost wages for essential workers across the country in the COVID-19 pandemic — but they argue governments should allow those front-line workers to retain that higher pay once the public health crisis has passed.

“Many of these jobs are paid at a rate that is absolutely not commensurate with the value that they give to our community and we see this as a recognition of that,” said CUPE Ontario president Fred Hahn.

“We think that this should not be a temporary thing. This should be a permanent measure where enhanced funding is permanently provided.”

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the federal government has reached cost-sharing agreements with almost all Canada’s provinces and territories for the wage boost for essential workers. The deal will see Ottawa put up three-quarters of the cost, with the provincial governments footing the rest.

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A news release from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) stated the government will provide up to $3 billion to support the wage top-ups.