Strategy to keep essential workers safe needed, including paid sick days, on-site testing and on-site vaccine clinics, says NDP
QUEEN’S PARK — Essential workers at the highest risk of getting COVID-19 should be prioritized to get their vaccines now, which could help end the painful cycle of sickness and lockdowns, said Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath. Horwath said that’s part of the comprehensive worker strategy that must be in place to save essential workers and stop the spread, including paid sick days, paid time off to get vaccines, on-site testing and on-site mobile vaccination clinics for essential workers.
“Essential workers are COVID heroes, and they are now the people most at risk. Too many are lying in the ICU today, struggling to breathe. If we don’t get shots into the arms of factory, warehouse and food supply workers, teachers and education workers and other at-risk essential workers, thousands more will get sick, and more will die. There will be more outbreaks. ICUs will continue to be overwhelmed. And this shutdown will be longer, deeper and more painful than it needs to be,” said Horwath.
Experts have been clear that ICUs are seeing more working-age adults who can’t work from home, and the variants of concern are making them sicker. According to data from Toronto Public Health reported by the Toronto Star, 68 per cent of workplace outbreaks have been in offices, warehouses, construction sites and food processing plants.
“We can relieve the pressure on ICUs and save precious lives. We can stop the spread. We can end the shutdowns and lockdowns sooner,” said Horwath. “To do that, let’s listen to the advice of experts, and make some changes. Let’s get the highest-risk essential workers vaccinated right away, and give all workers more protection.”
Horwath said the Ford government should be making it as easy as possible for all workers to get their vaccines, including bringing vaccine clinics on-site for large essential workplaces, and implementing paid time off for workers who need to leave work to get their shot. She has also been calling for paid sick days and on-site COVID-19 testing to make workplaces safer.