We need paid sick days, not policing in Ontario

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We need paid sick days, not policing in Ontario

COVID-19 case numbers in Ontario are reaching new highs and ICUs are overloaded. We need paid sick days now or low-wage racialized workers and their families will continue to die. 

Ontario’s Science Advisory Table has urged the province to provide adequate paid sick days and focus on measures to stop workplace outbreaks. All 34 Medical Officers of Health across the province have called for paid sick days. 

Despite this, the government continues to ignore advice from health providers, experts, and worker advocates. Instead of legislating paid sick days, Ford announced new powers for the police. More policing will not stop the workplace outbreaks that are driving the spread of COVID-19.

Due to public pressure, the government has been forced to walk back some of the proposed police powers. Nonetheless, any additional powers embolden police to act with impunity and will harm Black workers, Indigenous workers, workers of colour, and women workers. 

Low-wage racialized workers are least likely to have paid sick days and more likely to be harassed and harmed by police. Racialized communities have the highest rates of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations and the lowest rates of vaccination. Racism is fuelling the pandemic.

The federal CRSB can never be an adequate substitute for provincially legislated paid sick days. CRSB pays less than minimum wage and is only available for workers who lose more than 50% of their weekly income. It excludes people who haven’t earned enough in the previous year and people without Social Insurance Numbers. This explains why CRSB take-up rates have declined even as COVID-19 case numbers soar across the country.

Effective paid sick days must be:

Universal: Available to all workers. Legislated, with no exemptions.
Paid: Fully paid to ensure workers are not financially penalized for following public health advice.
- Adequate: At least 10 paid sick days provided on a permanent basis, with an additional 14 paid sick days during public health emergencies.
- Permanent: Available during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Accessible: Employer-provided with no barriers to access, disruption of income or unnecessary applications.
More information on effective paid sick days policy is included in this report from the Decent Work and Health Network.

We need immediate effective measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect communities most at risk. We call on the provincial government to:

  • Legislate at least 10 permanent paid sick days, with an additional 14 paid days during public health outbreaks.
  • Invest in public health and vaccines for all, not in policing that harms racialized communities.

Organizing for paid sick days has never been more urgent. As health workers, we are calling on our fellow health workers and the public to speak out for paid sick days by signing this petition, and sharing it with your friends and co-workers.

You can also sign up here to get involved in organizing for paid sick days and decent work for all. If you are a health worker, you can sign up to get involved here.