March 16, 2020
TORONTO— The Government of Ontario’s legislative response to the COVID-19 pandemic fails to institute paid sick days that will enable workers to protect themselves and others from exposure to the virus.
“Doug Ford says he will do whatever it takes to contain the spread of COVID-19 but he could certainly do a lot more to show leadership during this difficult time,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Ford should immediately reintroduce the measures he repealed in 2018, including paid sick days, which workers desperately need during this pandemic.”
In 2018, the Ford government repealed many enhancements previously made to the province’s Employment Standards Act, a move that was widely criticized by Unifor and many other unions, community groups, and anti-poverty organizations. The measures were seen not only as unfair but that they would also jeopardized public health.
In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Unifor has called on all provincial governments to immediately introduce 14 paid sick days for anyone affected by the virus including those quarantined by medical professionals and those who have been advised to self-isolate.
“With so many lives on the line, we need the Ontario government to show real leadership,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “Providing people with the financial means to self-isolate is essential to containing the spread of this deadly virus. Your income, or ability to take days off of work, should not determine if you are infected with, or continue to pass on this disease.”
Ford’s conservatives have committed to waiving sick note requirements and made an unfounded commitment that workers’ jobs will not be lost for following the advice of medical professionals. As cases of COVID-19 continue to skyrocket across the province, Unifor is urging the Government of Ontario to protect workers and their families through this simple measure.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.