Pandemic Policy Demands Provincial Jurisdiction (revised June 9)

Update-June 9, 2020

Unifor position on public policy needs and worker support measures

Unifor has launched a hub for member information about the pandemic at and encourages members to check the site regularly for updates.

Our union strongly urge all provincial governments immediately implement the following measures and actions to effectively contain the spread of COVID-19 and preserve the health and safety of our members and all workers in Canada:

  • Institute a minimum of 14 days of paid sick leave whether a worker has been formally quarantined by a health official, or been asked to self-isolate;
  • Ensure that if any worker must go on leave for COVID-19 related quarantine or self-isolation, they maintain drug coverage through their employer or is eligible for coverage under provincial drug programs;
  • Coordinate with federal officials to provide resources needed to cover all laid-off workers, with no access to private coverage, under existing provincial drug programs and waive all dispensing fees, premiums, deductibles or co-payments;
  • Establish special provisions that provide workers paid leave to care for children affected by government-mandated school and daycare closures;
  • Ensure adequate funding for child care capacity and synchronize business opening with child care opening;
  • Ensure a safe and well planned return-to-school program allowing working parents to send their kids to schools safely and return to the workforce;
  • Ensure all workers are protected from any employer reprisals for any and all absences as workers are required to provide childcare, care for elders and dependents and other mitigating circumstances resulting from the ongoing pandemic;
  • Expand the scope of publicly-funded pay premiums for workers in essential industries, and encourage employers to maintain such pay premiums post-crisis;
  • Workers’ Compensation Boards adopt an irrebuttable presumption of work-relatedness for health conditions related to Coronavirus/COVID-19, for all health care workers, first responders and all other workers who come into contact with the public;
  • Waive requirements for employees to produce doctor’s notes in cases of illness (at the very least, consider other less onerous ways to substantiate absences due to illness);
  • Waive all fees for registration or other services at all health institutions including any planned COVID-19 assessment centres and existing community clinics, hospitals, and other facilities regardless of status;
  • Ensure that vital health services, including health agencies, remote health care services (e.g. telephone information services), assessment centres and hospitals, are properly resourced to deal with rising patient volumes;
  • Automatically renew funding transfer payments to agencies and organizations in the broader public sector, to ensure staff retention throughout the current crisis;
  • Fund enhanced supports for screenings at all centres that provide care services to seniors – including retirement homes, supportive housing and assisting living for public health;
  • Provide appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to prevent the spread of COVID-19 to workers in high-risk and frontline service positions;
  • Ensure that all Indigenous communities have immediate access to clean water and practice the prevention measures advised by health professionals to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
  • Establish and adequately fund provincial Anti-Racism Councils and Directorates that provide advice and direction to governments to combat xenophobia. As COVID-19 continues to spread racialized groups, including but not limited to Chinese and Iranians, are disproportionately likely to face loss of income, and to suffer the effects of racism;
  • Instruct all provincially-regulated institutions to extend and relax payment requirements on financial responsibilities facing consumers and households, including student loans, rent, mortgage payments, utility bills;
  • Ensure no tenant is evicted for any reason or punished in any way for missing a rent payment;
  • Include labour, community, anti-poverty, and migrant worker advocacy groups included in all government planning of its COVID-19 response;
  • Fully implement the recommendations of public health officials to protect vulnerable residents and workers in long-term care facilities by enforcing screening of staff, residents, and visitors in long-term care facilities. Ensure that long-term care homes increase staffing – including increasing hours for part-time and casual workers – so that workers are able to provide care safely and follow all precautions necessary to protect themselves and residents; and
  • Coordinate, with municipalities and public health authorities, the collection of disaggregated race-based data as it relates to COVID-19 infections, testing and mortality rates.