May 28, 2020

Can’t celebrate yet - keep fighting for sick days

Organizing works! Just days after our #PaidSickLeaveSavesLives Day of Action, and under pressure from the federal NDP, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau pledged on Monday to push for 10 days of paid sick leave for every worker in Canada.

With the support of health providers, faith leaders, labour unions, anti-poverty advocates and small business owners, we’ve been pushing for at least 7 paid sick days for ALL - plus an additional 14 days during public health outbreaks. Winning a commitment for 10 days of paid leave is a huge step forward. But, we can’t celebrate yet.

Call your Member of Parliament
Take 2 minutes and make your call now (click here for tips)!
If you can, post a video or photo of yourself in action with the hashtag #PaidSickLeaveSavesLives, and challenge others to do the same.

Despite his fine words, the Prime Minister has only promised to “explore” options with the provinces, and so far has made no effort to lead by example to legislate the 10 paid days for the nearly 1 million workers covered by the Canada Labour Code*. 

It’s up to all of us to make sure the federal government turns their words into action. Call your local Member of Parliament today (click here to find their number and a suggested script). Tell them you support 10 permanent employer paid sick days to be legislated immediately, with no public subsidies for the likes of Loblaws, Chartwell or Amazon.

Mandate paid sick days now, without delay
With medical experts warning of a second wave of COVID-19 infections -- on top of day-to-day workplace outbreaks -- the lack of legislated paid sick days puts more people at risk of contagion… or worse. Workers who are ill must be able to stay home that same day without financial penalty, instead of having to lose income for 14 days to gain access to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Millions of people cannot afford to take a single unpaid day off when they are unwell. This is a disgrace - and a public health hazard for all of us.

During COVID-19 and permanently
From the heartbreaking conditions in for-profit long-term care homes, to the poverty wages facing many frontline workers, the pandemic did not create these injustices, but exposed them for what they are. Paid sick days are a necessity, not a luxury -- and if we are serious about limiting community transmission of contagious illnesses like the seasonal flu, we need this protection permanently. In Ontario, there are too many early childhood educators, paramedics, food handlers, nurses, security guards, cleaners and so many more without *any* paid sick days. This is unacceptable.

NO public subsidies for wealthy corporations
Meanwhile, Loblaws, Walmart, Amazon - all companies raking in billions more in revenue during the COVID-19 outbreak - underpay their workers and provide no paid sick days. That’s exactly how they keep their profit high. These companies can certainly afford to provide paid sick days for every employee. Our tax dollars must not be used to subsidize the Loblaws of the world to provide paid sick days, or the likes of for-profit nursing home Chartwell that has been rightly slapped with a class-action lawsuit. Let’s not give them a single dime.

Thousands of supporters like yourself sent in petitions, called our elected representatives and spoke up for this basic protection! For the Prime Minister to be giving voice to what thousands of us have been saying all along is a huge step forward and a vindication of our demands. However, we must force him to deliver on his promise. 

As it stands, very few workers in Canada** have a government-guaranteed right to paid sick days. But together, we can change that! Make your call now (visit: for more info)There’s no time to lose to legislate life-saving paid sick days for ALL!

*  Canada Labour Code dictates the rights of federally regulated workers in sectors that cross provincial boundaries, like transportation, communication and banking.
** Workers in Ontario have 0 legislated paid sick days, while workers in PEI are entitled to 1 paid sick day a year after working for the same employer for 5 years. Workers in Quebec get access to 2 paid sick days after working for the same employer for 3 months.