Canada’s unions applaud the introduction of federal paid sick leave

December 1, 2022

Bruske: Thousands of workers in federally-regulated workplaces will benefit; now we need paid sick leave for all workers.

OTTAWA — Canada’s unions are pleased to see new legislation making ten days of paid sick leave available for all workers in federally-regulated private-sector workplaces come into effect today. Access to paid sick leave is a critical tool to keep our communities and workplaces safe.

“We thank parliamentarians and the government for advancing this critical legislation. This was made possible by all of the workers and their unions who fought long and hard for these protections. Providing paid sick leave for private-sector workers in federal jurisdiction is a positive step forward — allowing workers to stay home when sick will result in better public health outcomes. The next step is to move forward to ensure all workers in Canada have access to paid sick leave,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress.

This reform will not only provide paid sick days to many workers who previously lacked them, but will also improve paid sick leave for other workers in the federal jurisdiction who will now see their number of paid sick days increase to meet the minimum standard.

While Canada’s unions welcome paid sick leave for federally-regulated workers, they will continue fighting for paid sick leave for all workers.

In a 2020 Decent Work and Health Network study of all Canadians, close to 60 percent reported having no access to paid sick days. That figure was 70 percent for those earning less than $25,000 per year, these are the workers that need it the most. A lack of paid sick leave disproportionately affects low-income and racialized workers and has resulted in worse public health outcomes in those communities during the pandemic.

“No worker should have to choose between giving up wages and staying home when sick or putting food on the table,” added Bruske. “In the current affordability crisis, workers are left facing difficult choices and they shouldn’t have to. We need to protect all workers and we urge the provinces that do not currently provide paid sick leave to do so. The pandemic taught us that paid sick leave saves lives, so what are we waiting for?”

Bruske added that the right to paid sick leave is more important than ever as cases of COVID-19, flu and other respiratory illnesses surge in workplaces and communities across the country, adding extra pressure to our over-burdened healthcare system.

“If workers can’t stay home when sick, we all pay the price. This is about community care —our ability to protect ourselves and our loved ones depends on workers being protected.”

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