The Stay Home If You Are Sick Act creates a made-in-Ontario framework for providing paid sick leave to all Ontario workers, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Bill 239 is a Private Members Bill brought forward by my colleague MPP Peggy Sattler in December 2020 and it passed first reading (Here is a Global article which features MPP Sattler).
At the end of January, Andrea Horwath released an open letter outlining the intent to request unanimous consent to pass Bill 239 as soon as the Legislature reopens - here a link to that letter.
This bill will:
- give employees in provincially regulated workplaces the right to at least 10 days of personal emergency leave (PEL) each year, 7 of which must be paid
- provide an additional 14 days of paid leave during an infectious disease emergency
- eliminate the need for doctors’ notes
- ensure financial support for small businesses struggling to stay afloat through the pandemic so they can provide vital paid sick days to their employees
For months, public health experts have been calling for paid sick leave to help slow the spread of COVID-19. Workers without paid sick days are the people we have relied on most during the pandemic. They have cared for our seniors, served us food, cleaned our buildings, and bagged our groceries. But when they get sick, or when their child wakes up with a sore throat, they must make an impossible choice, because staying home to recover or care for their child means giving up their pay. It could mean not being able to make the rent, not being able to pay the bills, not being able to buy groceries.
An estimated 60 per cent of Ontarians do not have permanent paid sick days, and that number is much higher among low-income workers, in sectors like food service, hospitality and retail, and among racialized or immigrant people.
Here are a few recent articles about this:
- CBC - January 14, 2021 - Federal Sickness Benefit Falls Short
- Toronto Star Editorial - January 25, 2021 - Ontario Should Mandate Paid Sick Days for All Workers
NOW - January 24, 2021 - Paid Sick Leave is Essential to Stopping the Pandemic