Unions critical of provincial paid sick leave plan

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By Nick Seebruch
Unions critical of provincial paid sick leave plan

ONTARIO – The Elementary Teachers’ Federation of Ontario (ETFO) and the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario both issued statements  on Wednesday, April 28 critical of the provincial government’s announced paid sick leave plan.

The provincial plan would require employers to provide employees with three paid sick days of up to $200 per day. The program is limited to April 19 to Sept. 25 2021, which is the date that the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) expires.

Both the ETFO and CUPE criticized this plan, with ETFO characterizing it as a ‘half-measure.’

“Three days of paid sick time, administered through the already overburdened Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, is nowhere near what is needed to save lives. It continues to leave
occasional educators and other education workers, who have worked without paid sick leave through the pandemic, unprotected,” reads a statement from the ETFO.

Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario was similarly critical.

“This is not the paid sick days we need,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “Health experts, including their own science advisory table, community organizations, and front-line workers have called for 10 permanent employer paid sick days. Instead the Conservatives announced three, and only until September 25. We’ve called for them to be employer-paid. Instead we got a plan that given even more subsidies to Loblaws, Amazon, and Walmart.”

Onario Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton lauded the plan as filling a gap in the CRSB program.

“Our government has long advocated for the federal government to enhance the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program to better protect the people of Ontario, especially our tireless essential workers,” said Minister McNaughton. “It is a tremendously positive step that the federal government has signaled their willingness to continue discussions on the CRSB. Now we can fix the outstanding gap in the federal program so workers can get immediate support and can stay home when needed.”

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