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To: Legislative Assembly of Ontario
LEGISLATE PAID SICK LEAVE FOR ONTARIO WORKERS (Bill 239 Stay Home If You Are Sick Act)
Pass Bill 239, the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act, into Ontario legislation. This bill was introduced by MPP Peggy Sattler with the First Reading in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario on December 8, 2020. See details here:
The bill proposes to provide workers with 10 permanent sick days (7 of which are paid) without the requirement for doctors’ notes, and an additional 14 paid sick days during an infectious disease emergency, so they can follow public health advice and keep our workplaces and our communities safe.
Why is this important?
Many people including public health experts, healthcare workers on the front line, workers who have worked non-stop throughout this entire pandemic, labour organizations, and more have been calling on paid sick leave since the start of the pandemic (and before), but it is not yet widely spread that a bill was put forward to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in early December 2020 to legislate paid sick leave. This bill, Bill 239, was put forward by MPP Peggy Sattler, and went through a first reading on December 8, 2020. The bill needs attention to ensure Ontario mandates paid sick leave for all workers. We cannot miss this opportunity to ensure this passes.
The bill has to go through more readings by other Ontario MPPs, committee members, and be discussed before being moved forward into legislation (or failing). The public can provide further input in this process, like how the bill should be altered in any way to make it more protective of any person in Ontario providing any sort of labour to an employer in Ontario, including undocumented and temporary workers. You can email or call your local MPP and provide them with any important changes they should discuss in the process, and urge them to ensure that paid sick leave is passed into legislation.
Paid sick leave should be mandatory, and in 2018 Premier Doug Ford removed the few protections that existed. This moment is of course especially urgent given the ongoing and escalating COVID-19 situation as we go into the end of the year and a provincial "lockdown". Numerous outbreaks are taking place at workplaces such as warehouses, and many of them are not included in the lockdown. Many nurses, physicians, and other healthcare workers are continually exposed to COVID-19, and are working between hospitals and Long-Term Care homes, are under-staffed and over-worked, and need to be ensured that they will have paid sick leave for their own protection, patients' protection, their loved ones, and for everyone else. This also applies for people working in grocery stores, pharmacies, schools, and all other labour and services that have just been symbolically applauded but absolutely not sufficiently compensated or protected. These government failures are allowing for growing hazardous working environments, and the failure to reinstate mandatory sick days already negates the purpose of a coherent public health response. People need to be able to stay home for their health, the health of others, and should not have to choose between income and health.
The Ontario Financial Accountability Officer also confirmed this month that the Ontario government has $12 billion in contingency funds for COVID-19 spending. Paid sick leave is completely feasible by large employers, and can be supported by the government for small businesses. Paid sick leave is one of many steps that are necessary to respond to this pandemic, alongside an eviction ban, emergency income support, hospital surge funding, expanded testing and vaccination capacity, and more.