‘Now is not the time for skimping on sick days and pressuring workers to work when they shouldn't’
The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU/SEFPO) has voluntarily given its staff more fully paid sick days as the province deals with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The union’s staff will have 10 days of such leave until the end of the pandemic, or for the duration of respective collective agreements, whichever comes first.
“From the start of this pandemic, we have been one of the leading voices calling on the government to give workers the paid sick days they need to help us all get through this as safely as possible,” said Warren Thomas, president of the 180,000-strong union.
Our staff belong to unions, and they've bargained a decent number of sick days in their contracts. But in these days of isolation and quarantine, workers need more. That's why we've voluntarily extended their annual sick leave from seven to 10 days. It's also why we're giving all our temporary workers 10 fully paid sick days.”
Unifor – another huge workers' union – noted that Ontarians support the implementation of paid sick days for workers in the province by a margin of more than four to one.
Thomas added that “it’s the right thing to do”. He also urged employers throughout Ontario to follow the union’s lead.
At the onset of the pandemic, he says that OPSEU/SEFPO was one of the first employers in the province to close its offices and direct its staff to work from home. Its staff are still working from home, and its members are only meeting remotely.
“I'm proud that our union is once again leading by example. We called on government to create a sick-day plan that is simple, speedy, and seamless. And that's exactly what we're doing by voluntarily giving our workers the ability to take the sick days they need without having to worry about filling out forms or maxing out their credit cards,” said Eduardo Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO first vice-president/treasurer.
“To get through this pandemic, we all have to do our part. And that includes employers. Now is not the time for skimping on sick days and pressuring workers to work when they shouldn't. Now is the time to put our communities first and work together to keep everybody safe.”
Meanwhile, Alberta, Saskatchewan, British Columbia have all implemented rules for employees to get their COVID-19 vaccination shots. In the private sector, Canada Goose previously said it will give all its employees up to four hours paid leave to receive the said vaccine shots.