We've advocated alongside our members, the 600,000+ people they serve across Ontario, and our health and social services partners for many years on this issue.
When someone is sick, they should not have to choose between their job, including ensuring they can earn a living, pay rent or the mortgage, and their own health or the health of their family members. This is a fundamental prerequisite for ensuring healthier communities across Ontario.
Here's our letter in support of Bill 8, which would ensure paid sick leave for ALL workers in Ontario, through amendments to the Employment Standards Act.
The time is now. Share our letter and your support for Paid Sick Days widely, and especially with your local MPP and other leaders.
November 23, 2021
We write today to endorse Bill 8, Stay Home If You Are Sick Act, 2021, currently being considered in the Ontario legislature. Through amendments to the Employment Standards Act, 2000, Bill 8 would guarantee all workers in Ontario access to 10 days of paid leave in a calendar year, for personal illness, injury or medical emergency, the death, illness, injury or medical emergency of a close family member.
Ontario needs paid sick days for all workers. To truly work for workers, the laws of Ontario need to guarantee that everyone’s rights are respected in all work relationships and all work environments.
The right of a person to stay home from a job to care for their health, or the health and wellbeing of a loved one -- in order to help ensure a faster and full recovery from illness -- is an essential component of any healthy society. But the right to stay home when sick isn’t one that everyone holds equally.
Those with full-time positions with benefits tend to have access to paid sick days. That means they can stay home when sick without the stress of missing essential income, or the fear of losing a job or shifts where they work. People without these benefits tend to be precariously employed, employed via short-term contracts, part-time work, and the “gig economy.” These workers are denied the legal protection in Ontario to exercise their rights; these workers are disproportionately racialized, precariously housed, and work for lower incomes, all of which makes them even more marginalized and at risk of poorer health, including mental health. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen starkly that the lack of paid sick days increased workers’ risk of serious illness and death, and the risks to family members they live with.
The benefits of paid sick leave, on the other hand, are well understood across the health and policy sectors in Canada and beyond. Among the OECD and the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table alike, the evidence is clear that paid sick days are an essential public health measure. But the benefits of paid sick days for public health and the wellbeing of marginalized workers isn’t just a COVID-19 issue – it’s an issue of health equity every time someone has to choose between their health, their family’s health and being able to earn a living in Ontario. That’s why we’ve seen physicians, health policy experts, and economists alike arguing that the right to minimum number of paid sick days every year is an issue of health justice, of human rights, and of economic competitiveness. As they say: “We are all better off when people don’t go to work sick.”
If Ontario doesn’t want to left behind places like Australia, New Zealand, Sweden, Germany, or closer to home, British Columbia, we need to understand that the right to paid sick days for all workers isn’t an issue pitting business concerns and affordability on one side, and workers’ health on the other. This is a false dichotomy. Paid sick days legislation is what is right for workers, businesses, and the economy, because it would support a more sustainable, resilient, and competitive province, with healthier communities, workers and families.
So the time is now. We need action NOW on paid sick days, both to prevent further tragic consequences of the pandemic, and to build our province back stronger and better than ever before. \
On behalf of our 109 community health member organizations, which include inter-professional health, mental health and social service teams, and which serve 600,000+ people across the province, we endorse legislated paid sick days under Bill 8.
Chief Executive Officer
Alliance for Healthier Communities