By Loretta Fisher
We urgently need paid sick days in Ontario for the many frontline workers who are getting infected with the virus, yet still have no protected time off to get tested or to practice the self-isolation that is required by public health. Paid sick days are needed for all workers, not just some workers, or else this deadly plague of coronavirus will continue to kill.
But instead the Ford government is blaming people for spreading COVID, claiming we need border control for a pandemic fuelled by unsafe workplaces, ignoring health experts, and expanding police powers to target people suffering the most under COVID-19. After opposing paid sick days for a year, Ford proposed instead to top up the federal program and then introduced a provincial program. But neither of these are what workers are demanding.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
Without a proper sick days program, workers will continue to go into work even when they’re feeling unwell. If they miss enough work to qualify for CRSB they’ll have to wait weeks to receive it, leaving many unable to pay rent or put food on the table. Workers will have to wait for weeks, but coronavirus will not wait for weeks! Throwing our money into the existing federal benefit money pit does nothing for those workers who can’t access or have to wait for it.
Premier Ford, we are sickened even more as we hear you say that people who are trying to save lives and who are asking for paid sick days are ‘playing politics’ when that is exactly what you have been doing. We are appalled that you have chosen to callously point fingers at others while watching more people dying. You pretend to have a heart by a apologizing and crying, but you’re still lying. Stop playing politics with the lives of the people of Ontario, even those who voted for you—many of whom support paid sick days.
We are not disposable. CRSB cannot replace the permanent paid sick days program workers need; even the federal government knows this is true. The people of Ontario deserve more, especially after a traumatic year and a half of rising infection and death rates.
Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit
Ford then promised “the best paid sick days plan in North America?” But this is delusional: after more than a dozen jurisdictions in North America have mandated permanent and employer-paid sick days, Ford has proposed a temporary and government funded program.
Premier Ford, your proposed plan is not really a plan for us anyway, but a demonstration of how you’re willing to have workers pay: using our money to subsidize companies that deny their workers paid sick days.
It’s pretty alarming, Premier Ford, to realize that you think this is your ‘best plan’; perhaps you even think you’re a generous man. The question I must ask is: Is it your plan to then use this as a subsequent call for cuts as you cry about huge deficits due to you having mis-directed our taxes?
Permanent and employer-paid sick days
All this delay has left a legacy of more unnecessary COVID deaths before our very eyes. Only legislating permanent paid sick days for all will save lives.
Paid sick days must be universal, employer paid, adequate, permanent, and accessible. Ten permanent paid sick days must be legislated now—in Ontario and in every other province—with an additional 14 for public health emergencies in line with what workers and public health experts are calling for.
Premier Ford, I am urging you to legislate paid sick leave at employer cost. If you insist on resisting, many more lives will be needlessly lost!
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