As workers have been waiting for real help, the coronavirus crisis has now turned into a full-blown global pandemic. Yet our federal and provincial governments have done far too little for workers, especially those of us in low-wage and unstable jobs. Sign the petition to demand urgent Health Emergency Labour Protections (H.E.L.P.), including 21 paid emergency leave days, better access to Employment Insurance (EI), an emergency fund for ALL and measures that leave no worker behind.
In response to COVID-19, Trudeau’s federal government waived the one-week wait for sickness benefits last week, but we know that is not enough. Ford’s Ontario government has promised to temporarily scrap sick notes and grant unpaid job protection, but we know that is also not enough. This crisis has already lasted for weeks and we cannot wait any longer. It’s time for the Canadian government and every province to provide these protections now:
21 paid emergency leave days for all workers
Workers are under real pressure to go to work while sick. In a health emergency, our governments must make sure workers can afford to follow public health advice. Workers should always have the right to at least 7 paid emergency leave days. Now, with self-quarantine, social distancing, and extended school closures, workers need much more. We are calling on provincial and federal governments to implement 21 paid emergency leave days to ease the burden on low-wage workers. Grocery clerks, food service workers, and personal support workers are still working every day. They need this paid emergency leave right now.
An immediate emergency fund for workers who can’t get EI or paid leave
Workers like cleaners, gig workers, entertainment and hospitality workers are facing reduced work hours or complete job loss. Too often, workers in precarious jobs are told by their employers that they are self-employed or independent contractors. This results in many workers not being eligible for Employment Insurance and having no safety net. During this emergency, the federal government must ensure that each worker can access a non-repayable weekly allowance if they have been directly or indirectly impacted by COVID-19.
Better EI access and benefits
We know through experience that it is very difficult for part-time, casual, and temporary workers to get the 600 hours of work that qualifies them for EI. Only around 40% of workers actually receive EI benefits when they need it. The federal government has to lower the threshold of hours to at least 360. Prime Minister Trudeau also needs to raise the rate of EI benefits now. Those who do get EI only receive 55% of their wages–a crushing financial blow, especially for low and minimum wage workers.
Leave no worker behind
Xenophobic policies and attitudes are hurting workers in some of the most economically vital yet precarious jobs such as live-in caregivers or farmworkers. We need leadership by our provincial and federal governments to take a stand against racism right now. Migrants and undocumented workers should not be excluded from accessing supports such as health care or be excluded from entering Canada for reunification or work. Those feeling the brunt of racism at this time, such as the Chinese and Iranian communities, need protection against the loss of income, jobs, and the closures that result from xenophobia and racism.
No worker should ever be left behind. The Health Emergency Labour Protections that we demand are for every worker, and we need them now. Please sign the petition today and share it with your community.