The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) is shocked that new COVID-19 emergency measures announced today fail to include critical workers’ protections including guaranteed paid sick days. This morning, Ontario health officials presented a harrowing picture of the COVID-19 trajectory which includes shrinking hospital spaces, and worsening long-term care conditions as case counts rise exponentially. Despite alarming modelling data, the Ford government continues to refuse advice from public health experts to implement paid sick days to curb the spread of the virus by ensuring that workers can stay home if they are sick, a statement issued by the OFL said.
“Health experts have said loud and clear: paid sick days save lives,” said Patty Coates, OFL President, “it is appalling that Ford’s government continues to refuse to act on this common-sense advice.” Ford’s refusal to introduce paid sick days comes after Toronto’s top doctor called on the province to implement guaranteed paid sick leave yesterday, describing it as an “essential” protection.
In addition to defying pleas to implement paid sick days from public health experts and ignoring the long-term care crisis, Ford’s decision to keep the legislature in recess has paused debate on bills that aim to provide support through this crisis, the OFL feels. Before the legislature adjourned in December, the OFL urged all-party support of the “Stay Home If You Are Sick Act,” a Private Members Bill introduced by MPP Peggy Sattler. The Federation continues to urge Ford to resume the Ontario legislature to take action on important bills like Sattler’s.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic there has been a disconnect between stay-at-home orders and the provision of adequate government protections for workers,” said Coates, “we are well past the time for action, Ford’s conservative government must step up, provide leadership and the protections that workers and communities need now.”
The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario.