Ontario Medical Students Call to Legislate Paid Sick Leave
58% of workers living in Canada do not have access to paid sick leave. Since labour policy is provincially regulated, paid sick leave legislation differs across the provinces. Currently, paid sick leave is only legislated in Quebec (two days per year), in PEI (one day after five years with the same employer), and for federally-regulated workers (three days per year). In Ontario, where there are no provincially regulated sick days, individual workplace policies dictate access to paid sick leave.
The COVID-19 pandemic has only highlighted the importance of paid sick leave and exposed the disproportionate effects of workplace policies on structurally marginalized populations: a recent report showed that 49% of COVID-19 cases in Toronto occurred in lower- income neighbourhoods. A disproportionate number of low-income workers are also racialized or migrant workers, many of whom live in multigenerational homes. This poses a clear barrier to self-isolation and increases the community spread of workplace-contracted COVID-19. These factors culminated in the highly publicized COVID-19 outbreak at Brampton’s Amazon warehouse and have also resulted in many other preventable deaths. Instituting paid sick leave would dramatically reduce the duration and severity of the pandemic. This would be critical to minimizing economic damage, dampening the burden on the healthcare system, and ensuring the right to health to all Ontarians.
The Ontario Medical Students Association (OMSA) recognizes the clear need for accessible, universal, and adequate paid sick leave. In line with recommendations from the Decent Work and Health Network, OMSA calls on the provincial government to legislate 7 paid sick days, with an additional 14 during public health emergencies, and an end to mandated sick notes. This paid sick leave program must also be made permanent so that workers continue to be protected beyond the pandemic.
Click here to read the full press release from OMSA.
For more information on OMSA's advocacy efforts, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.