Toronto’s City Council overwhelmingly voted for Ontario to implement a paid sick leave during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday morning, City Council voted 24 to 2 to call on the Ontario Government to “immediately implement” 10 days of paid sick leave for workers during the pandemic.
According to Councillor and Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy, last month Toronto’s Board of Health voted unanimously for the paid sick leave.
Only 42% of working Canadians currently have access to paid sick leave, and among low-wage and frontline workers, the number is estimated to be 10%.
“Workers without paid sick leave, particularly essential and frontline workers, continue to feel financial pressure to work even when ill,” Cressy said in a statement.
In Toronto, more than 60% of workplace outbreaks have taken place in frontline warehousing, shipping and distribution, manufacturing, and food processing sectors.
“We can’t beat COVID-19 until we control workplace outbreaks, and we can’t do that without paid sick leave,” Cressy said.
“With the new, highly transmissible UK variant now spreading in workplaces among frontline and essential employees, it’s clearer than ever that we must do everything we can to contain transmission and prevent this variant from spiralling out of control. City Council today has endorsed the Board of Health’s call that the Province must step up and act now to protect essential and frontline workers, before it’s too late.”
In September, the federal government launched the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit as part of its COVID response, which provides $500 per week, for up to two weeks.
Cressy says the benefit pays less than a full-time minimum wage job, has processing delays, and does not provide job security for workers seeking to use it.
Premier Doug Ford has said it’s not necessary for the province to implement it with the federal government’s benefit.
“Let’s be very, very clear there’s no reason for the province to jump in there when less than 27% of the overall program hasn’t been taken up,” Ford said at a press conference earlier in January.