PSAC is calling on the Ontario government to do more to protect workers during this public health crisis. Specifically, we are demanding the government enact special paid leave, along with income supports and benefit protections, to assist families who have been suspended from work by their employers.
It is not enough to protect workers’ jobs during this time, families need access to income and financial assistance to weather this storm. It is unreasonable to believe that all workers who have been asked to stay home from their jobs have the financial capability to continue to afford food, medicine and other basic needs during this time. This is especially true for precarious workers in this province, who are often living paycheque to paycheque.
Therefore, PSAC is working with the Ontario Federation of Labour to lobby the provincial government to enact a strategy that supports every worker in Ontario gain the following:
- Provide at least 7 permanent paid sick days for all workers, and an additional 14 paid sick days during a crisis.
- Provide 10 days of job-protected personal emergency leave for all workers.
- Eliminate sick note requirements for all workers.
- Ensure all workers have full job protection during a crisis.
- Ensure full workers’ compensation to any worker who interacts with the public and that contracts health conditions related to COVID-19.
- Increase hospital funding immediately and by at least 5.3 per cent each year.
PSAC represents thousands of workers covered under provincial legislation, including in the gaming, academic, security, contract cleaning and health services sectors. Without strong government protections, workers will have little recourse in attaining safeguards while following recommended health protocols.
For our members who fall under federal jurisdiction, PSAC is working with the Canadian Labour of Congress to push the federal government to undertake the following:
- Double the GST/HST credit to provide income support to low-income Canadians.
- Increase the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) paid to low- and modest-income families.
- Reduce the entry requirement for EI regular and sickness benefits.
- Immediately increase the current benefit rate from 55 per cent to 60 per cent.
- Establish an emergency benefit with a low minimum contribution requirement to support otherwise ineligible workers.
- Implement regulations to waive requirement that claimants obtain a doctor’s note if they require quarantine.
- Instruct utilities, banks, landlords, credit card companies and financial institutions to extend and relax mortgage, rent and bill payment requirements, loan servicing obligations, and other responsibilities facing households.
- Introduce legislation that would prevent someone from being fired for self-quarantining or recovering from infection, and that if a worker loses their job for these reasons, they will be reinstated.
There are many households who cannot afford to stay at home without pay during this crisis. Furthermore, part-time, seasonal, casual and contract workers are already vulnerable and without government safeguards these workers will not be able to cope. With no set date for when this emergency may be over, all levels of government should undertake any and all measures to protect families from income loss during this time.
Sharon DeSousa, PSAC Ontario Regional Executive Vice-President