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Toronto-Dominion Bank is giving all non-executive employees a one-time gift of five shares of the bank’s stock, adding a new twist to efforts to recognize their work through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The stock awards, worth about $449 at the latest price for TD shares, will go to most of the bank’s 89,000 staff. Employees outside Canada, the United States and Britain will instead receive cash payments.

This is the third set of bonuses the bank has handed out to reward staff for working in difficult conditions throughout the pandemic. TD gave staff in branches $1,000 bonuses in April, May and June last year, and all non-executive staff received $500 last fall. But handing out shares is a new approach.

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Chief executive officer Bharat Masrani said one of the bank’s principles is to “act like an owner,” in a staff memo announcing the bonuses on Wednesday. “In recognition of your extraordinary efforts,” he wrote, TD decided to give employees “the opportunity to become owners and participate in the longer-term performance of the bank.”

TD’s share price is up nearly 25 per cent so far this year, closing at $89.77 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday.

In the intense early months of the pandemic, several banks gave employees extra pay, in particular to reward staff in branches, call centres, data centres and other critical roles who were not able to work remotely during the public-health crisis.

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