QUEEN’S PARK – NDP Labour critic for Training, Trades and Apprenticeships, Guy Bourgouin, NDP Workplace Health and Safety critic Wayne Gates, NDP Labour Relations critic Jamie West, and NDP Employment Standards critic Peggy Sattler, are demanding Doug Ford take action immediately to provide paid sick days for workers to control the rapid spread of COVID-19.
Despite repeated calls from the Official Opposition NDP, public health experts, mayors, advocates and groups representing businesses for paid sick days, Doug Ford is still refusing to listen the evidence and failed to include paid sick days in the new measures announced Tuesday.
“For countless essential workers, calling in sick means their family will go to bed hungry. They just can’t afford to miss shifts,” said West. “Doug Ford cut Ontario’s two measly paid sick days and now refuses to give Ontarians any paid sick days during COVID-19, because he doesn’t want to spend more on everyday working folks.”
During Tuesday’s COVID-19 modelling update before Ford’s announcement, Dr. Barbara Yaffe and Dr. Adalsteinn Brown could not have been clearer. They told Ontarians that without paid sick days and supports for workers, it would not be possible to control the virus.
“Doug Ford knows what needs to be done — the experts’ recommendations are clear,” said Gates. “Once again this shows Ford is listening to lobbyists, and avoiding spending — and people in this province are paying the price.” Alongside paid sick days, the NDP is fighting for family care days so parents can stay home if their children have to isolate because of COVID-19. “Doug Ford needs to act today to end the horrible choice he’s forcing workers to make between financial worry, or risk catching the virus and spreading it to their family,” said West.
In December, Sattler introduced the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act at the Ontario legislature. This billcreates a made-in-Ontario framework for providing paid sick leave for all Ontario workers, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Sattler’s bill would guarantee 10 personal emergency leave days per year for every worker, seven of which are paid.
“We need employer-delivered paid sick leave so that it is easy and seamless for workers to access, and that requires provincial leadership. Workers who suspect they may have COVID can’t wait to apply for federal sick leave and see if they are eligible. They can’t afford to lose their pay either, so may have no choice but to go to work sick,” said Sattler. "Ford could recall the Legislature immediately, and we could pass the legislation tomorrow.”
“The bottom line is that people are going to work sick because they can’t afford not to, and children are going to school sick because mom or dad can’t miss a shift to stay home with them,” said Bourgouin. “There is no excuse to deny paid sick days for workers, and without it we’ll see more infections, more pressure on our hospitals, and more lives needlessly lost.”