April 27, 2021
TORONTO – Ontario conservative’s weak proposal for an expanded Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) does not meet the need for paid sick days amid mass death and continued COVID-19 spike, Unifor says.
“Today, Ford’s government confirmed its refusal to listen to doctors, essential workers, or their unions once again. If the outpouring of calls for help, anger and fear of the past year was not enough, then workers will need to raise our voices even louder so that this government acts now,” said Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “How dare Doug Ford and his ministers raise workers’ expectations with false promises of paid sick leave if he never intended to follow through.”
On Tuesday, April 27, Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton called on the federal government to double payments available through the CRSB, with Ontario paying the difference. The Federal Finance Minister responded quickly, highlighting that the province has the jurisdiction to mandate true paid sick leave and that the CRSB exists to help, “Canadians who would otherwise fall through the cracks.”
“This shell-game strategy of deflecting responsibility, raising expectations, and then continuing to leave workers and their families at risk must end now,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “Instead of doubling down on a temporary, inadequate and inaccessible program, the Ontario government needs to introduce flexible, universal paid sick days into labour law in Ontario.”
The CRSB acts to protect the wages of workers facing COVID under limited criteria including having COVID, caring for someone with COVID, or acting under the instruction of a medical professional or government authority to quarantine due to COVID risk or exposure. To qualify, a worker must miss more than half a week of work, and they may wait several days for payment.
“Ontario needs a Premier who will act to protect workers in the province. With the deception and disappointment of the past several weeks, Ontarians are rightly questioning if Doug Ford is up to the task,” continued Dias. “Tomorrow, people across Ontario will mourn the fast-growing number of workers who died on the job, including from COVID, in the past year. It’s inexcusable that the Premier is not using every tool he has to prevent more death.”
Unifor continues to advocate for universal paid sick days to be enshrined in labour law in Ontario that includes:
- 7 permanent paid sick days;
- 14 additional paid sick days during a declared public health emergency;
- Universality (i.e. it applies to all workers, regardless of status);
- A prohibition on sick notes;
- Flexible (i.e. not just for short-term illness; more akin to “personal emergency” days);
- No administrative burden.
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 further information: For media inquiries or to arrange a Skype, Zoom or FaceTime interview please contact Unifor Communications Representative Sarah McCue at @email or 416-458-3307.