March 16, 2021

Amazon Warehouse Closes, Paid Sick Days Fight Continues

The dramatic March 13 closure of a huge Amazon warehouse in Brampton shows how urgent it is for Premier Doug Ford to take action on paid sick days. Since October, over 600 workers at that warehouse have been infected by COVID-19 and its variants. [1] How many of these infections could have been prevented had Ontario taken medical officers’ health advice and moved quickly to ensure all workers have paid sick days?

Register right now for our March 23 online organizing meeting. Click here to RSVP and receive the Zoom link.

Ensuring that workers have the financial ability to stay home at the first sign of symptoms is now a matter of common sense to all but the Ford government. On March 1, while all opposition parties supported the NDP private member’s Bill 239 to provide paid sick days to all workers, Doug Ford’s Conservatives united to ensure the Bill was defeated.

This decision is short-sighted and dangerous to all of us, especially since COVID-19 infections and new variants are on the rise in Ontario. For as long as this government denies paid sick days to those of us who need them, we will continue to be forced to make the difficult decision to go to work sick to put food on the table or pay rent.

But let’s also be clear: this decision is racist. Because of racism in the labour market, white workers are more likely to have paid sick days in their jobs, more likely to be able to work from home and self-isolate, and, therefore, less likely to suffer financially when they take a sick day for anything from a headache to the flu.

Again, because of racism in the labour market, Black workers, Indigenous workers, workers of colour and newcomer workers are overrepresented in jobs that don’t provide paid sick days. These tend to be frontline service jobs where it is even more challenging for workers to protect themselves on the job without reprisals. And when we are simply too sick to work, there is a significant financial impact from losing even 1 or 2 days of work in a year.

See and share the full post on the Decent Work and Health Network's Instagram page here. 

So, when our elected representatives deny paid sick days, they perpetuate racism and deepen the racial wage and wealth gap.

Vaccinations alone can’t substitute for paid sick days. Workers who need to get vaccinated must have paid sick days to get the shot and recover from any side-effects. It must also be said that the vaccination program is not expected to be complete until September, and even then, we know that some people will fall through the cracks. For all these reasons, paid sick days will continue to be a crucial tool in our COVID containment strategy now and in the future to protect everyone from common infectious disease and future public health outbreaks.

There is some good news. Thanks to your continued organizing, another paid sick days bill has already been tabled in the Ontario Legislative Assembly. Bill 247 would provide 10 permanent, employer-paid emergency leave days to all workers as a matter of law. It is expected to come up for a vote in April - so that means we still have time to organize and persuade Ford’s Conservatives to do the right thing by supporting Bill 247.

Click here to RSVP for the March 23 decent work organizing meeting. 

You should also know that a recent news story quoted unnamed sources from within the Conservative caucus, saying they feel the pressure to respond to our relentless campaign to win paid sick days for all. [2] This tells us our work together has been effective, and we need to intensify the pressure on every single Conservative MPP in this province.

Now’s the time to organize phone zaps in your riding, to demand meetings with your local MPP and spread the word far and wide. Let’s send a message that Ontario expects this government to legislate sick days now. Join the March 23 online organizing meeting. 

Read on for upcoming decent work actions, as well as related events organized by our allies.

March 18 - Ontario Federation of Labour: A People First Agenda - Help & Hope, An Anti-Racism Discussion
In recognition of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, let’s talk about the groundwork we need to lay to ensure we have a government committed to transformative change and takes action to challenge injustice and address barriers for racialized people. Click here to RSVP.

March 20 - Free Them All: National Day of Action in Solidarity with Prisoners
March 20 marks one year since the first prisoner in Canada contracted COVID-19 at the Toronto South Detention Centre. More than 6,700 COVID-19 cases were linked to prisons and jails in the last year - including 4,971 prisoners, despite persistent calls to take immediate action to avoid preventable deaths. Click here to RSVP.

March 21 - Brampton Paid Sick Days phone zap
Join us on Sunday, March 21 at 2:00 pm for this emergency phone ZAP to demand paid sick days for all. We are outraged that Conservative Brampton MPPs voted against Bill 239, which would have legislated permanent paid sick days for all of us. Brampton has one of the highest proportions of COVID 19 infections in Ontario, and workplaces are a persistent source of infection. Click here to RSVP

March 27 - Education Assembly
Join the first virtual Province-Wide Education Assembly to discuss what Ontarians need from our education systems during COVID-19 and beyond. This Assembly unites workers, parents, and students from child care to post-secondary through education, inspiration, and action. We will use these discussions to understand better how to work together to advocate for decent work and increased public funding for education, from child care to post-secondary. Click here to RSVP

March 27 - Solidarity with Grassy Narrows

Grassy Narrows is the English name for the Ojibwe Indigenous nation: Asubpeeschoseewagong Netum Anishinabek. Approximately 90% of Grassy Narrows residents suffer from mercury poisoning. The poisoning results from Dryden Chemicals Ltd. dumping mercury into the English-Wabigoon River system between 1962 and 1970.

After many years of work by Grassy Narrows and supporters like you, the federal government signed an agreement last Spring with Grassy Narrows and committed to building a Mercury Care Home using the community’s design! But Grassy Narrows still needs to gain just compensation for all of its people for the ongoing mercury crisis, restore their health, way of life, self-determination, and protect their land and water from industrial logging and mining. Click here to RSVP

April 7 - Ottawa Paid Sick Days phone zap 

Join us on Wednesday, April 7 at 7:00 pm as we plan the next steps for the decent work movement in Ottawa. Click here to RSVP

April 20 - Decent work organizing meeting 
Thanks to your incredible effort, there is growing momentum for safe and healthy workplaces for all. From paid sick days to migrant justice and decent wages to safe schools, your actions make a difference! Join us for our monthly organizing meetings together with the Ontario Federation of Labour to mobilize for the month ahead. Please RSVP here to get emailed the zoom link closer to the meeting. Click here to RSVP

MAY 1 - SAVE THE DATE: Decent work campaign relaunch
For the past several months, leaders in the Fight for $15 and Fairness have been consulting with hundreds of workers in low-wage, part-time, temporary, and other precarious jobs to find out where to take the campaign in the months and years ahead. We are assessing the feedback and preparing to re-launch the campaign based on the priorities workers have identified. Save the date and join us on Saturday, May 1, as we unveil the next phase of the decent work phase.

WATCH and SHARE: Black on Campus

Watch on Youtube: Click here to watch!

CONTENT WARNING: This video contains a graphic image and language.

The Fifth Estate investigates anti-Black racism on Canadian campuses

"Black on campus" is a ground-breaking video documentary about anti-Black racism on Canadian campuses. It was originally broadcast on February 25, 2021, by The Fifth Estate, CBC's premier investigative journalism program. For the first time in a major network broadcast, "Black on campus" reveals the day-to-day reality of systemic anti-Black racism facing Black students, staff, and faculty in Canada's post-secondary system.

Please help us promote "Black on Campus" by forwarding this message to your contacts, networks, and members. If you study or work on campus in Canada or want to be part of the fight against anti-Black racism, this documentary is essential. Please watch it and share it. Click here to watch the segment. The run time is only 21 minutes.

After watching the documentary, share your feedback with The Fifth Estate and encourage the CBC to produce more content like "Black on campus." Email [email protected] or click here. Click here to read more about the broadcast.


[1] Mojtehedzadeh, Sara, and Akrit Michael. “Amazon's Brampton Warehouse Ordered to Shutter over COVID-19 Outbreak.”, 12 Mar. 2021

 “Amazon Site in Brampton, Ont., Must Close and All Employees Self-Isolate, Health Officials Order | CBC News.” CBCnews, CBC/Radio Canada, 13 Mar. 2021, 

[2] Benzie, Robert. “Pressure Mounts on Doug Ford's Conservatives to Bolster Ottawa's Sick Leave Program.”, 8 Mar. 2021