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Calls for province to legislate employer-paid sick days

'We call these workers our heroes but we aren't giving them the one thing that will help them the most.'
Sick woman 01242020
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The North Bay and District Labour Council is adding its voice to the call for paid sick days.  

Labour Council President Henri Giroux is calling on the provincial government to legislate employer-paid sick days for all Ontario workers. According to Giroux, "From a public health point of view, this just makes sense. We can't expect people to choose between paying for groceries or staying home when they're sick."  

Giroux points out the lack of paid sick leave disproportionately affects low-wage workers — many of whom have been considered essential workers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. 

"Public Health experts agree all workers need paid sick leave to get through this pandemic. We call these workers our heroes but we aren't giving them the one thing that will help them the most." 

In separate correspondence with BayToday, provincial NDP candidate for Nipissing Erika Lougheed also weighs in on the subject of paid sick leave.

"Ford has shrugged his shoulders and pointed to federal supports, though the drawbacks are well-documented: workers can only apply after they’ve missed half of their work week, and compensation ends up falling below minimum wage. People who need a day or two just to get COVID test results don’t qualify."

Lougheed adds, "As [Ontario NDP Labour Relations Critic] Jamie West recently said, 'For countless essential workers, calling in sick means their family will go to bed hungry. They just can’t afford to miss shifts.'

Meanwhile, a Decent Work and Health Network report from August 2020 highlights its stance on paid sick days.

"We now know that 58 per cent of workers in Canada do not have paid sick days. These are our patients working low-wage, precarious jobs and who are disproportionately women, Black, Indigenous and other racialized workers," said Carolina Jimenez, Registered Nurse and Coordinator of the Decent Work and Health Network. "Canada is among the bottom quarter of countries globally that do not guarantee paid sick leave on the first day of illness — a crucial measure that allows our patients to stay home at the first sign of symptoms."

Read the full report Before it’s Too Late: How to Close the Paid Sick Day Gap During COVID-19 and Beyond.

A resolution from the Decent Work and Health Network will be presented when the Labour Council meets over Zoom on Tuesday, February 16.