| In Ontario there is currently no guaranteed paid sick leave. There was once 2 days but Doug Ford cancelled that in 2018. Covid 19 has brought this issue to the forefront. Many experts consider it be a crucial step in combatting the virus. There is definite evidence that paid sick leave will not only help with virus control but is cost effective.
In 2017 the Journal of Public Economics noted that when a US city mandated paid sick leave there was a 40% decline in the seasonal flu rates. Studies have shown where there is little to no paid sick leave, illness rates increase. It is estimated that lack of paid sick leave during the H1H1 outbreak of 2009 increased the case numbers by 5 million.
Who are the most at risk because of lack of paid sick leave? White-collar executives are most likely to have paid sick leave while lover income people have little to none.
Currently the provinces are in charge of paid sick leave. On average 58% have no paid sick leave and that number increases to 70% in workers making less than 25000.
Stay home when sick has been a phrase, we hear daily and there is no question that is good advice. The problem is that without paid sick leave many people, particularly low-income workers, feel they cannot afford to do that. They are worried about a roof over their heads and food on the table. Job security is another fear. It is estimated that in the Peel region 25% of workers went to work with covid symptoms between August and January.
Despite recommendations of doctors, public health officials, mayors, advocates for workers rights and members of the covid science table, Doug Ford has refused to legislate paid sick leave. He cites the federal Canadian Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) as the reason, stating it would be a duplication of federal benefits and a waste of taxpayer’s money. Unfortunately, the federal plan falls short of what is actually needed. A worker has to miss at least 50% of their scheduled work week in order to qualify. It can also take up to 4 weeks after applying to receive your money. In the meantime, bills need to be paid and food needs to be bought. Many low-income workers are barely scraping by as it is. The payments are $500 dollars a week, $450 after taxes.
There may yet be hope for Ontario workers. Since the federal budget came out on April 19, with no improvements to CRSB, the Ford government is now saying they will consider taking another look at paid sick leave. What will come of it and when remains to be seen.
Christian Science Monitor
Decent Work and Health Network)
Canadian Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
Peel Public Health
Mutated COVID-19 – Life’s Emergency Training (lifesemerg.com)