Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Why we need a comprehensive paid sick leave program

Pretty much everyone I speak to, and many of the people I read, cite the lack of paid sick leave in Canada (and elsewhere) as being a major contributor to the continuing spread of COVID-19. Workers in essential industries, from healthcare to warehousing to manufacturing to food production, keep on working even when they get sick, because they need the money coming in and their employers (and their governments) do not offer paid sick leave.

The federal government did introduce the Canada Revovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) last fall, which it claims is basically the same as paid sick leave. But the program requires users to navigate a government website to apply for it, and payments may be delayed several weeks, which does not answer the need for short term cash (for rent, groceries, etc) that these generally low-paid workers have. 

Activists in the field often point to Germany as an example of a good comprehensive paid sick leave system. And Germany has fared better than many countries, although certainly not as good as others, as regards the virus. Either way, though, common sense dictates that the rash of industry-related outbreaks (and the elevated incidence of COVID cases in areas with lots of warehouses, food distribution businesses, etc, like Surrey, BC and Brampton, Ontario) could have been alleviated by paid sick leave. 

If the government is willing to help by instituting a program like CRSB, then why not go the whole hog and make it a mandatory and immediate paid sick leave program?

No comments: