Today Premier Doug Ford declared a second provincial emergency for the Province of Ontario, putting forth several new measures in response to rapidly increasing COVID-19 cases across Ontario and the dire situation facing our hospitals and long-term care homes.
While I support the new public health measures that are aimed at limiting the further spread of COVID-19, I was disappointed that today’s announcement did not include plans to provide adequate sick pay to the thousands of Ontario workers who need them.
The reality is that only 10 per cent of low-wage workers in Canada have access to paid sick leave. And we know that high numbers of COVID-19 cases are occurring among essential workers who are temporarily or precariously employed – those who are keeping our economy running by working in our factories, warehouses and industrial settings. We know many continue to go into work when they are sick because they fear losing a paycheque and do not have adequate sick pay to protect them.
If it’s between self-isolation and putting food on the table, many are choosing to go to work. This increases the risk of spread.
This is a glaring gap that needs to be immediately addressed. So, I am again calling on the Province and the federal government to work together to immediately implement 10 mandated and accessible sick days to all employees in Ontario to help curb the spread of COVID-19 amongst essential workers.
I strongly believe that this a key measure to help reduce spread in our community, reduce the burden on our hospitals and protect our long-term care homes.
What is clear is that the Province – as well as our Region and City – are in an extremely serious situation. I’m urging all residents to follow the new guidelines, including the new stay-at-home order that takes effect this Thursday, requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for trips to get groceries or medication, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work.
City Staff are currently reviewing the new measures announced by the Province today and will immediately implement any changes needed to City services.