August 19, 2020
VANCOUVER, B.C. – Low-wage occupations commonly include a heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to the public nature of the position. At the same time, precarious and non-unionized workers are compelled, and in many cases expected, to work regardless of their health or condition. The likelihood of termination and being unable to afford to miss work, combined with an absence of paid sick leave legislation in BC, results in a failure to safeguard those who need protection the most.
Based on findings from a nation-wide physician survey, a new report has been released by the Decent Work and Health Network (DWHN) with recommendations for effective paid sick leave legislation to be implemented across Canada.
Released today, the report outlines paid sick leave policies by province, and also reveals that Canada is surprisingly falling behind on a global scale. As mentioned in the report, during a 2019 survey of 182 Canadian emergency physicians, 83% agreed that patients can determine when to return to work on their own, confirming that employer-required sick note ‘evidence’ places an unnecessary strain on walk-in clinics, emergency rooms, and public resources. The DWHN is asking that government leaders acknowledge the realities of workers’ lives when considering the need for sick day legislation, including family and other caregiving responsibilities.
Public protection against COVID-19 this Fall will depend on effective and proven public health intervention policies, and teachers are feeling particularly worried. “As a teacher, I see a huge need for paid sick days to keep students, staff and their families safe from spreading the virus. How can the parents of our students keep them home when they have what might be COVID symptoms if they don’t have access to paid sick days?,” says Lisa Descary, a secondary school teacher working in the Vancouver area. “Paid sick leave that is accessible to everyone must be part of the plan for a safe school reopening.”
On Saturday, August 29th, the Retail Action Network (RAN) is asking its members from all across BC to meet with their local MLAs to share their personal work experiences and to demand safe workplaces with permanent and legislated paid sick day protections.