Ontario votes against 10 permanent paid sick days

Nov 24 2021, 9:08 pm

The Ontario Progressive Conservative government voted against making 10 paid sick days permanent in the province on Wednesday.

The news comes just over a month before Ontario’s current paid sick day program ends. The program forced employers to provide up to $200 per day for up to three days if an employee became sick during the pandemic.

Bill 8, or The Stay Home If You’re Sick Act, would have introduced 10 permanent paid sick days and 14 additional paid sick days during public health crises.

Ontario NDPs put forward the bill on October 6. Earlier this week, essential workers rallied at Queen’s Park to call on Premier Doug Ford to pass the legislation.

“This government’s three temporary paid sick days are completely inadequate and are set to end in the dead of winter when diseases can spread more quickly,” said Dr. Naheed Dosani, a palliative care physician and member of the Decent Work and Health Network in a statement made on Monday.

“We need to learn the lessons of the first waves of the pandemic. It’s past time for permanent legislation that protects our patients with at least 10 paid sick days,” he said in the statement.

The NDP members who put forward the bill emphasized the importance of paid sick days to help prevent workplace outbreaks. NDP MPP Jill Andrew said in a statement that it would disproportionately impact already marginalized groups.

“Workers deserve so much better than a premier whose big cuts and bad choices include ripping up Ontarians’ paid sick days for a second time – a move that will disproportionately impact many women and members of BIPOC communities who have already carried the brunt of this pandemic as essential workers here in Ontario,” the statement reads.

According to Public Health Ontario data, between October 24 and November 23, there were 97 workplace outbreaks reported in the province.

Ontario paid sick days

Ontario Public Health

The Ontario government has voted against making sick days permanent nearly 30 times since the start of the pandemic. Ontario’s vote against sick days came on the same day that BC’s government voted to mandate five paid sick days in the province. The new permanent sick days will go into effect in 2022.

The Ontario Federation of Labour called the Ontario government’s vote against sick days “shameful” in a statement.

“This government has repeatedly proven that they do not care about the health and safety of workers in Ontario,” said Patty Coates, Ontario Federation of Labour President, in the statement. “Health care providers and workers’ advocates have pointed to permanent paid sick days as a common-sense measure since before the COVID-19 pandemic devastated our workplaces and communities over the past two years. Yet Ford’s Conservatives have ignored experts over and over again.”

Throughout the pandemic, doctors across the province have shared stories of their patients who caught COVID-19 at work and fell seriously ill or spread it to their families.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour told Daly Hive that more than 220,000 Ontarians have access the paid sick day program in the province.

“We will continue to ensure workers have the protections and support they need to keep themselves and their loved ones safe from COVID-19,” Harry Godfrey, spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour, said in an email. “We are taking all the steps necessary to protect the health and safety of everyone in Ontario.”

Brooke TaylorBrooke Taylor

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