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Doug Ford Says Ontario Will Not Provide Paid Sick Leave For Struggling Workers During State of Emergency

Ford suggests existing $450 per week benefit from federal government should be enough to get sick low-wage workers ‘over the hump’

Ontario Premier Doug Ford confirmed his government has no plans to introduce paid sick leave for struggling low-wage workers as his province declares its second state of emergency during the pandemic.

Despite calls from Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health for the province to introduce 10 paid sick days to curb the spread of COVID-19, Ford suggested workers should make use of a preexisting federal program that provides only $450 per week and expires after just two weeks.

“I know you pointed to the federal COVID benefit which is $450 per week, do you think that’s enough money for the minimum wage worker who has symptoms to stop them from going to work? Do you think that’s enough money for most people who live paycheck to paycheck?” one reporter asked.

“We’ve agreed with the federal government and we aren’t gonna duplicate areas of support,” Ford said. “They have that paid sick leave, which is very important.”

The federal government’s Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit pays $450 per week — less than fulltime minimum wage income — for a maximum of two weeks.

Another reporter asked Ford what should workers do after those two weeks are up.

“Great question,” Ford replied.

“We’re going to work with the federal government to make sure that that continues — the support that’s needed,” Ford explained. “I can’t speak for the federal government, but I’m pretty sure they’re going to extend it.”

Ford reiterated that the current benefit, which maxes out at about $900, should be enough to “get people over the hump for a couple of weeks.”

 

Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health has noted that only 42% of Canadians have access to paid sick leave and only 10% of low wage and frontline workers.

According to data from the province’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, thousands of Ontario workers have contracted COVID-19 through work-related exposures.

The Ford government scrapped Ontario workers’ rights to two paid emergency leave and 10 days total leave per year soon after forming government.

Ford’s government replaced them with three unpaid sick days.

 

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