Bruske: Canada’s unions urge the federal government to work with the premiers to protect our communities by giving every worker access to paid sick leave
OTTAWA – On the eve of federal, provincial and territorial labour minister meetings, chaired by Minister Seamus O’Regan, Canada’s unions are urging Canada’s leaders to protect our communities from COVID-19 and other future viruses by making sure workers have access to 10 paid sick days in every jurisdiction across Canada.
“Public health and worker protection go hand in hand. Throughout the pandemic, we saw that when workers can’t stay home, our communities pay the price with more outbreaks and worse health outcomes,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress (CLC). “The reality is, we know paid sick leave saves lives. We urge the Minister of Labour to work with the provinces and territories to make sure all Canadian workers can stay home when sick by having access to 10 days of paid sick leave.”
While Canada’s unions welcomed the passage of federal legislation, they are urging the government to accelerate the law’s implementation.
“We thank parliamentarians and the government for passing the federal law so swiftly, and unanimously. But the pandemic is not over and new variants are swirling,” said Bruske. “It is critical that the government now brings this law into force immediately, so federally-regulated workers can begin accessing these sick days as soon as possible.”
Bruske added that the right to access sick leave must be accompanied by changes to workplace culture, so workers feel free to use their sick days. She pointed to how some of the existing provincial programs were underused, especially for non-unionized staff, because of pressure from employers. This particularly impacted care workers, from health care to child care to long-term care.
“Many unionized workers have already won hard-fought access to paid sick leave,” said Bruske. “Now we need to make sure new sick leave programs are designed to be used – and employees are no longer pressured to come to work when sick or fear losing their job.”
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