Labour group urges Ontario to do more to protect workers amid pandemic

 

The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) believes the Province isn’t doing enough to protect the health and safety of front-line workers amid this pandemic.

In response to the rapidly evolving situation regarding the spread of COVID-19, the Province implemented a Bill that would protect workers who have to self-isolate due to being exposed to the virus.

The Bill will remove the requirement that workers obtain a sick note to qualify for sick leave as well as provides protections to workers to prevent employers from implementing reprisals to workers who must self-isolate.

However, the OFL believes it’s not enough, and is urging the government to increase the number of paid emergency sick leave days for Ontario employees to 21.

Job-protected leave is no good if workers can’t afford to use it. The government must make it possible for workers to follow the advice of the Chief Medical Officer, and practice social distancing and self-isolation to slow the spread of this virus,” Patty Coates, OFL president, said in a news release.

Unless all workers have paid emergency leave and other supports so they can take recommended precautions without financial hardship, Ontario’s ability to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic will be impeded,” she continued.

In addition to providing workers with 21 paid sick-leave days, the OFL is urging the government create an emergency fund to provide a non-repayable living allowance for vulnerable populations, including precarious workers and workers in the gig economy, seniors, social assistance recipients, and students - paid through provincial and/or federal general revenues; ensure all workers have full job protection during this crisis; instruct all provincially-regulated institutions to extend and relax payment requirements on financial responsibilities facing consumers and households, including OSAP, rent, mortgage payments, gas and electricity bills (as other jurisdictions have) among others.

The Premier continues to say that workers should ‘stay home when [they] are sick,’ when he knows very well that it is impossible for workers to follow that directive if they do not have paid leave and other supports,” Coates said.

Ontario is only as healthy as the most vulnerable person in our province,” she added.

Cover photo courtesy of the Ontario Federation of Labour’s Twitter

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