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.”
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.
Ford says the amount the federal government gives “will get people over the hump”.
It’s $450 a week.
I’m beginning to think he doesn’t understand what the federal benefit is/what it’s meant for.
And that’s all. No more questions. Good luck Ontario.
— James Wattie (@jameswattie) January 12, 2021
Only mention of sick pay in this announcement is pointing to federal program that offers $500 a week — $450 after taxes. For full-time workers, that works out to less than minimum wage. https://t.co/esqlrfcnzx pic.twitter.com/THAaiF1al8
— Matt Elliott (@GraphicMatt) January 12, 2021
.@fordnation notes “so many people are living paycheque to paycheque” and the feds have to make sure they don’t go weeks without any help from EI
Closes with “stay home, folks” message.
To quote someone else: I don’t take responsibility at all.
— Armine Yalnizyan (@ArmineYalnizyan) January 12, 2021
Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health is calling on the province to ensure workers have access to 10 paid sick days during the #covid19 pandemic.
Only 42% of working Canadians have access to paid sick leave, and only an estimated 10% of low-wage & frontline workers. Release: pic.twitter.com/BvxjnvN2dY
— Tina Yazdani (@TinaYazdani) January 11, 2021
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.