My name is Daniela, and I work as a Personal Support Worker (PSW) in a long-term care facility. I am a part-time worker, and I have no paid sick days.
Last December, during the Omicron wave, I got sick with COVID-19. I had to stay home, and my employer didn’t pay me anything. I didn’t have money to pay my bills and had to live on my savings. How is this normal in Canada? In other countries, when you get sick, they pay you.
As a health worker, I am risking my daily life to care for residents. Residents are sick all the time. Even now, many residents are in isolation, and sickness is commonplace. We continue providing care for our residents despite the risks involved. At any moment, there is a chance that I will get sick from my job, but there is no protection for workers like me.
The Ontario government tells us that they care for PSWs, but their actions don’t show it. If the government cared for us, they would provide us with at least ten permanent paid sick days. Those ten days of isolation in December were challenging for me.
And then, one month ago, I was sick again and needed to take two days off. It was a common flu. But, I was not eligible for the three temporary paid sick days because they are only for COVID! The Ford government’s three temporary paid sick days did not apply to me even though I am called an essential worker. How am I expected to stay home without pay? How can I pay my bills? And then, if I go to work with my cold, although it’s not COVID-19, I can still spread this illness to my colleagues and the residents. We need 10 paid sick days for ALL workers. One person getting sick affects the entire community, my colleagues, my residents, and my family.
When Premier Ford denies workers paid sick days, he is leaving my community and me behind. Paid sick days are a fundamental right. I need this protection. I am calling on the government to legislate ten permanent paid sick days.
This piece is adapted from a speech presented at Elementary Teachers Federation of Ontario’s Annual Meeting. Join Justice for Workers on Nov 10 outside subway stations in Toronto or online Ontario-wide to demand 10 permanent paid sick days.
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