QUEEN’S PARK — NDP MPP Joel Harden (Ottawa Centre) tabled a motion in the Legislature on Tuesday that would provide paid sick days for every worker in Ontario, permanently.
Harden said Doug Ford should recognize that an outbreak of COVID-19 could devastate the health and lives of workers when their workplace shuts down, and called on him to support the motion.
“All working Ontarians, including those in low-wage and precarious jobs, need guaranteed paid sick days so they can stay home when they’re ill or when they believe they’ve been exposed to COVID-19,” said Harden.
In Ottawa, the city is trying to keep the virus under control by imposing fines of up to $5,000 per day to those who violate self-isolation rules. For workers, it is another reason to stay home when feeling sick. Harden said that makes it even more pressing for Ford to support efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19 by giving workers paid time off when they need it.
“If workers are exposed to the virus, Doug Ford should be supporting them to get tested and self-isolate, rather than leaving them without pay when they are doing the right thing,” said Harden. “Paid sick days are crucial to prevent the spread of illness in any workplace and are especially important now during this ongoing pandemic to prevent outbreaks.”
“Doug Ford says the second wave of the pandemic will be worse than the first. Therefore he should support this motion to protect workers and their families now. Ontario needs a permanent, made-in-Ontario plan to provide paid sick days to all workers.”
Harden’s motion says the Ford government should bring in a provincial paid sick days program accessible to everyone not covered by the federal government’s paid sick leave program.
“The hardship that workers are facing now cannot continue to be ignored by this government. Workers have been going into the workplace when sick, some with COVID-19, because they just can’t afford to stay at home to get better,” said Harden.
“There have been outbreaks in workplaces, deaths, and grief stricken families and co-workers. This cannot be allowed to continue in Ontario. We need action now.”
Carolina Jimenez, Coordinator for Decent Work and Health Network, supports Harden’s motion to help workers stay safe. “The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the urgency of permanent paid sick days for all. As case counts rise our patients cannot wait any longer, especially low-wage, racialized and women workers who have been hit hardest. Immediately raising employment standards to include paid sick days will ensure our patients can follow basic public health advice to stay home when they are sick without putting their livelihoods at risk,” said Jimenez.
“The COVID-19 pandemic revealed how many workers are just a paycheque or so away from being unable to make ends meet,” said Harden. “They can’t afford to take unpaid time off. That’s why we need to support workers by providing them with some financial security during this health crisis.”