OFL: Workers need permanent paid sick leave, not the bare minimum

TORONTO, April 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Ontario’s new Worker Income Protection Benefit is a bare minimum response to the longstanding call for paid sick days from labour advocates, unions, public health officials, and medical experts. The temporary benefit, administered through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), will provide a maximum of three days paid sick leave and is only available until September 25, 2021.

“The hard work of labour advocates, unions, public health officials, and medical experts has forced this government’s hand to step up and provide a provincial paid sick days program, but this is simply not good enough,” said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) President. “We have been part of the call for permanent, adequate, employer-provided, and universal paid sick days, since long before this pandemic. Our calls have gained traction and broad public support across the political spectrum. The Worker Income Protection Benefit is simply not the paid sick days program we need. It is temporary, inadequate, and restricted.”

Earlier this year the OFL endorsed Peggy Sattler’s Bill 239, the Stay Home if You Are Sick Act because, in addition to permanent paid sick days, it would have provided 14 paid sick days during a pandemic. “Three days simply isn’t enough time for a worker to get a COVID test, wait for their results, and continue isolating if necessary,” said Coates, “we need an adequate number of paid sick days to ensure workers can take the time they need to isolate and recover.”

“Today’s announcement is too little, too late,” said Coates, “Ontarians deserve a paid sick leave plan that meets the needs of all workers and keeps all our communities healthy and safe. That means more days and eligibility that covers all workers during COVID-19 and beyond.”

Over the past year many workers fell ill and died because of inadequate protections for workers. Today, on the National Day of Mourning, workers across the province and the country mourned for those who did not have access to the protections they deserved. Just as we mourn for the dead, we will fight for permanent paid sick days for all.

The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information, please contact:

Melissa Palermo 
Director of Communications 
Ontario Federation of Labour
[email protected] l 416-894-3456

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