Frontline, low-income workers have been left in the cold without paid sick days during the pandemic. With 58% of workers in Canada not having a single paid sick day and low wage jobs making it impossible to miss a day of work, our labour standards are directly contributing to the threat to worker safety and public health. Workers raising their voices is what has brought us to near unanimous public support for paid sick days. By donating to the Workers’ Bowl, you can help amplify workers’ voices.
It takes courage for workers to speak out and share traumatic experiences that happened all because we don’t have this basic workplace protection. Hong, a worker at an industrial laundry facility, called our Workers’ Rights Hotline for help applying for workers’ compensation after contracting COVID-19 at work. His workplace doesn’t offer paid sick days, so his friend Mr. Wang could not afford to stay home sick, instead passing the virus on to Hong and another worker. Sadly, Mr. Wang died a month before he would have retired.
Hong developed long haul COVID-19 symptoms that make him unable to return to work. With the support of one of our organizers, Hong was interviewed by a Global News reporter in the hopes that sharing what happened to him would make a difference for other workers. When asked if all of this could have been prevented, Hong responded, “If there were paid sick leave, it could save some workers’ lives. I could suffer the same fate as (my colleague). COVID could take my life.” 
Workers’ Action Centre members speak out at the risk of losing their jobs because they know their voices hold the power to bring the changes we need. As a result, after over 25 times of refusing to implement permanent paid sick days, the Ontario government was forced to offer three temporary paid sick days. And because of our members, permanent paid sick days are still on the table.
Recently, Julie Li spoke with a Toronto Star reporter about the Ontario government’s announcement of a $15 minimum wage on January 1, 2022. The coming increase will bring much-needed relief to thousands of essential workers. But workers have been “waiting for a long time” for $15 an hour, Julie told the Star, and now it isn’t enough. “She wants the government to introduce workplace protections for workers beyond the minimum wage such as paid sick leave.” 
We have done outreach and offered education to let our communities know that we won temporary paid sick days this year, and that we can win the permanent paid sick days that we need. Because of our members’ leadership, there’s real hope that we will win an effective, universal paid sick leave policy in Ontario.
The importance of workers’ voices at this moment can’t be overstated. The OEERC* Education and Leadership Fund for Workers allows us to keep giving workers the confidence to speak up. Will you donate what you can today? With your support, we can keep empowering workers as we push for a just recovery for all.
 Global News: COVID-19: Why hasn’t more been done to keep workplaces safe? (full episode)
 Toronto Star: Doug Ford’s surprise minimum wage hike
*The Ontario Employment Education & Research Centre (OEERC) supports community leadership development, which strengthens the ability of diverse communities to know and protect their rights at work.