The Conservatives’ failure to address the COVID-19 pandemic was underscored by today’s temporary paid sick leave announcement. After months spent shirking responsibility, today, the Ford government delivered a hastily developed plan that delivers another half-measure.
Three days of paid sick time, administered through the already overburdened Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, is nowhere near what is needed to save lives. It continues to leave occasional educators and other education workers, who have worked without paid sick leave through the pandemic, unprotected.
This is the same government that moved quickly to eliminate paid sick days from all Ontario workers soon after taking office. The plan they announced today does not undo the harm they did by taking these away in October 2018.
Educators, front-line workers, advocates and the province’s own advisory table have been asking for a robust paid sick leave program for over a year. Repeatedly, the Ford government dismissed these calls, deferring responsibility to the federal government, and shamefully voting against paid sick leave 21 times.
Educators have seen how the pandemic has affected students, particularly those with family members they live with who work front-line jobs. They have watched families struggle because of the lack of legislated, employer-paid sick days.
Like their inadequate vaccine rollout, they rushed to deliver a half-baked plan that underserves Ontarians. Countless lives could have been saved if the Ford government had truly done everything they could to implement a comprehensive paid sick leave plan.