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New third-wave restrictions highlight urgent need to vaccinate all essential workers now

A red illustration of the COVID-19 virus.
April 16, 2021 - 12:00 AM

TORONTO - Unifor urges the Ontario provincial government to legislate paid sick days and fast-track vaccination for all workers deemed essential under new third-wave province-wide restrictions.

“Workers are scared, and are looking to the province for leadership. Instead, Doug Ford is playing politics amid the crisis, and workers in essential jobs across the province are still waiting to be put on a fast-track to vaccination,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “We need to do everything we can to keep all people safe who cannot work from home, but Ford continues to pass the buck instead of prioritizing workers.”

Unifor is calling on provincial governments to expedite vaccination of all frontline workers who must attend their jobs in person, to reduce the risk to workers, their families and their communities. In addition to priority access to vaccines, paid time off is also required if workers need to receive their shots during work hours, as Saskatchewan has already legislated.  

“Experts across the province have repeatedly called for extraordinary measures that match the severity of the current crisis. Yet as we enter this unprecedented and alarming stage in the pandemic, the provincial government continues to ask essential workers to put themselves and their families at risk,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “This is unconscionable, no worker should be asked to risk their health and their life for their job. We need to protect and vaccinate all essential workers.”

A new poll, commissioned by Unifor, reveals that the vast majority of Ontarians support the legislation of paid sick days for workers. The poll, conducted by EKOS Research Associates Inc. April 7-12, 2021, reveals that Ontarians support the implementation of paid sick days by a margin of four to one.

Unifor first wrote to Premier Ford in March 2020 with a recommendation for emergency paid sick days to stop the spread of the pandemic.

The Union continues to advocate for universal paid sick days to be enshrined in labour law in Ontario. Thousands of members emailed and called their MPPs, municipal governments and Boards of Health, and the Premier’s office to demand this life-saving public health measure. Visit the Paid Sick Days campaign website to add your name.

Unifor is Canada's largest union in the private sector and represents 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.

For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype, Zoom or FaceTime interview please contact Unifor Communications Representative Sarah McCue at sarah.mccue@unifor.org or 416-458-3307.