“The Conservative government, including [David] Piccini, has voted against paid sick leave 25 times over the past year”

“I’ve got a clear message for Doug Ford … people in Ontario have had enough”

Article and image by Bill Hornbostel

Dan Tobin, President of the Northumberland Labour Council, has strong words for the recent announcement from the Provincial Government of three days of paid sick leave for workers diagnosed with COVID-19. Tobin says that the “so-called paid sick leave plan announced by the Conservative government is just a scheme. This plan is not what the residents of Ontario need.”

“The government’s paid sick days are only restricted to COVID-19 and will disappear by September 25 of 2021. After that nobody will get paid sick days,” says Tobin. “According to Doug Ford, this is just a bridge for people to go on a federal program.”

The federal program Tobin is referring to is the Canada Sickness Recovery Benefit (CRSB). According to the program’s website (link), it “gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.” The program offers $500 per week, for up to two weeks off of work because of COVID-19, and also ends on September 25, 2021.

“If it’s not COVID-related, you’re not going to get paid; and how long is it going to take to get that money in your bank account?” asks Tobin, referring to the need to apply to the programs to receive any benefits.

“The majority of people care about their job, and that majority will phone in sick does because they are too sick,” continues Tobin. “If, say, a person on minimum wage, a low income-earner, phoned in sick because he has a simple cold, or they say that their son or daughter is sick, they feel guilty because they are going to be without money, so they have to do without, say, rent for a month or food for a month. And people should not have to choose between going to work sick or not paying their rent or their or their food for a month.”

Tobin states that Ford, as Premier, “gets permanent sick days no matter what.” Tobin estimates that Ford, who is currently isolating at home since one of his staffers tested positive for COVID-19, gets paid a salary of $800 a day. “He expects the rest of Ontario to do three sick days at a maximum of $200 a day, and these sick days are only due to COVID-19. If you’re calling in sick because you’ve got a cold, you don’t get paid for it. Health experts, as well as every other sane body here in Ontario, have been calling for 10 paid sick days permanent, and 14 paid sick days during a pandemic. What Doug Ford has announced is far from what is necessary for people to live in this province.”

Tobin also talks about the occasions legislation has been proposed about paid sick leave have come up in the Provincial Parliament. “The Conservative government, including [David] Piccini, has voted against paid sick leave 25 times over the past year,” says Tobin. “There’s been 25 different bills, either from the NDP, or from the Liberals, and the Conservative government has voted down every time. In my opinion, if they were honest with wanting the paid sick days, why not initiate one of these bills? My opinion is that Piccini, as well as Doug Ford, don’t really care about the people of the province, about their health and safety; they’re just worried about themselves and their supporters.”

“I’ve got a clear message for Doug Ford,” Tobin adds. “People in Ontario have had enough. We are done with your ineffective government, your disgraceful absence, of attempting to turn Ontario into a police state, your mismanagement of the vaccine rollout, lack of PPE [personal protective equipment] supplies, and your desperate emotional outbursts over your failures. We don’t need any more regulations, false promises, your so-called ‘I’m sorry.’ We don’t need any more of your blame game, either. There has been enough talk. It is time for you to step up or step aside and give the residents of Ontario what they need to get by through this pandemic.”

For more information on the Northumberland Labour Council, you may visit their website, https://www.northumberlandlabour.ca/, or follow them on Facebook (link) or Twitter (@CouncilLabour).

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