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Doug Ford: People Who Think Essential Workers Need Paid Sick Days are ‘Totally Irresponsible’

Doug Ford is dismissing growing calls from doctors and health experts for paid sick days as Ontario declares another state of emergency

Ontario Premier Doug Ford has some choice words for the “totally irresponsible” people telling his government essential workers need paid sick days as Ontario declares another state of emergency amid surging COVID-19 infections.

Speaking at a press conference Wednesday to announce new province-wide public health restrictions, the premier took time to publicly denounce a group of people — which includes doctors and local medical officers of health across Ontario — who have been calling on Ford to reinstate paid sick days:

“I want to address something about the paid sick days. You know, my message to the opposition and everyone else, because there’s a lot of people that are playing politics right now and it’s totally irresponsible, they’re doing a disservice to the people that they’re telling this to.”

Ford then proceeded to ask everyone to spread the word about a federal program that is not the same thing as paid sick days and is largely irrelevant to the main problems that paid sick days would help solve.

Ontario’s Employment Standards Act included two paid sick days for all workers until Ford’s government got rid of paid sick days in 2018.

Medical experts have warned that a lack of paid sick days is forcing many people to go to work when they’re sick or symptomatic, risking greater community spread.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, the federal program Ford referenced at his press conference, only compensates people after they’ve been infected with COVID-19 or need to self-isolate for extended periods of time.

Ford has offered the same misleading talking point in the past.

Back in February, Ford dismissed paid sick days as a “waste (of) taxpayers’ money” and “not fiscally prudent,” all while falsely claiming it would only duplicate what the “federal program” was already doing.

In January, Ford responded to calls for sick days by insisting the federal program should “get people over the hump for a couple of weeks.”

Public health authorities and municipal leaders across the province have been joining growing calls for the reinstatement of paid sick days in Ontario, something many health workers say would help control the spread of COVID-19 and would actually save the province money, as well as lives, in the long-run.

Earlier this week, Toronto Mayor John Tory called on Ford’s government to reinstate paid sick days in order to help control spiralling COVID-19 infections in Ontario’s largest city.

A recent Toronto Star analysis of public health data showed workplace outbreaks account for by far the highest numbers of COVID-19 outbreaks in the city.


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