As of Tuesday, all of Ontario is now in Stage 2 of the COVID-19 reopening. But life for most workers in low-wage, precarious jobs is far from any kind of normal. Many sectors — like arts, entertainment, tourism and hospitality — have not even begun to reopen or are doing so only partially. In response to public pressure, the federal government did agree to extend the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) by 8 more weeks. But thousands of workers are worried about what to do in the fall when this income support runs out.
Many of us also continue to face the deadly pandemic with little personal protective equipment (PPE), no paid sick days, and without any real ability to refuse unsafe work. For a better recovery for workers, join us to organize for paid emergency leave and for a further extension of emergency benefits.
Extending emergency benefits for workers whose jobs continue to be impacted by COVID-19 is crucial to prevent more people from being forced into dangerous jobs to make ends meet. For millions who started receiving CERB in March, the $2,000 per month benefit will run out at the end of August. Please fill out this short survey from the Workers’ Action Centre to share your concerns about CERB and unsafe work. You can fill it anonymously. Then join workers across the country for an online Emergency Meeting on COVID-19 Income Benefits for Workers. Register now and mark Monday, July 20 at 2:00 PM on your calendars! Invite other workers you know who rely on CERB; share the Emergency Meeting Facebook event.
At the Workers’ Action Centre, everyday people call our workers’ rights hotline with worries about CERB. Those worries turned frighteningly real when the federal Liberal government tabled Bill C-17 that would have seen workers facing impossibly high fines or 6 months’ jail time for refusing a “reasonable” job offer and staying on CERB instead. Fortunately, the government has not moved forward with Bill C-17, but it could be brought back to the table later. With corporate and government attacks on the benefits we depend on happening all the time, it’s so important that we come together at the Emergency Meeting on July 20 and organize to extend this vital income support!
While we fight to extend benefits for those of us out of work or with reduced hours, we are still organizing to make work safer for everyone. Be sure to join us on Saturday, July 18 as we participate in the Day of Action for PAID Emergency Leave Days. Job-protected paid sick leave is as crucial to safe working conditions as PPE and social distancing. Rushing people back to workplaces without paid sick days is a public health disaster! We continue to call for at least 7 paid sick days permanently, and 14 additional days during pandemics. Sign up to show support for paid sick days in your community and share the day of action on Facebook.
With our rights and income supports at stake, we have to stay on our toes and let bad bosses and our governments know that we are watching. We see that wealthy companies like Loblaws have ended pandemic pay even though we are still in the middle of a pandemic, and they can well afford to pay a few dollars more. We see the injustice of employers cutting wages and work hours, while our right to claim constructive dismissal (due to reduced wages and hours) through the Ontario Ministry of Labour has been put on hold during the state of emergency (click to learn more). And we feel the burden of having to wait till well after the emergency before we can claim termination pay through the Ministry.
We won’t take this without a fight! Organize with us and invite your family, coworkers and friends to take action by sharing this post with them.