Government officials are calling workers in healthcare, in grocery stores and sanitation “superheroes” for getting us through this crisis. While some workers are forced to stay home to stop the spread of the new coronavirus, these essential workers must keep traveling to work each day. They are putting in longer, more intense hours than ever before.
But are governments doing enough to protect essential workers from COVID-19?
Sadly, the answer is no. In Ontario, we witnessed the government strip away our 2 paid emergency leave days over a year ago. Now it’s time for both the Ford and Trudeau governments to take a good look at who is left without paid time off to deal with the impacts of COVID-19: It’s the same superheroes on the frontlines, whether they work in healthcare, food production, retail, cleaning, caregiving, transportation or warehouse distribution logistics.
And we know that superheroes get sick, too. Sign the petition to demand that our governments bring in 21 paid emergency leave days now!
All workers permanently need at least 7 days of paid emergency leave to protect their own health and their families, their patients and clients, and the entire public. If all workers had this basic protection in the first place, it would have curbed COVID-19’s spread from the start by allowing more workers to stay home at the first sign of illness.
During pandemics, an extra 14 days of paid emergency leave is urgently needed. It is overwhelming enough to have to wait to see if your COVID-19 test will come back positive. Imagine the extra stress when those who risk their lives to go to work must also worry about how they’ll pay rent as they self-isolate.
Long before COVID-19, we knew that those in the lowest-paid jobs—who are now considered essential workers—faced unsafe working conditions. The health and safety threat just got worse, yet workers doing these critical jobs are still having to make the case for paid emergency days.
As we’ve said before and won’t stop repeating, fair labour laws save lives. All workers across Canada need 21 days of job-protected paid emergency leave right now. Demand that our federal and provincial governments start protecting workers now: Sign the petition and spread the word. You can also join us to thank our superheroes on April 21 by making some noise with your neighbours about how #PaidSickLeaveSavesLives.
Webinar on Workers’ Rights During COVID-19
If you are worried about unsafe work or don’t know if you qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), join our next free online workshop at 7 pm on Thursday, April 23. There are new changes every week so it is important to find out if you can now qualify for CERB.
Workers’ Action Centre and Fight for $15 & Fairness host webinars with the latest info on Thursdays at 7:00 pm. Please visit www.15andFairness.org/events to find and register for all upcoming webinars.
If you have urgent questions about your work situation or applying for CERB, please call our confidential workers’ rights hotline at 416-531-0778.