With the second wave of COVID showing no signs of abating there are increasing calls for paid sick leave to prevent Ontarians who lack protection from showing up at work with symptoms. Today, Mayors and Chairs from the 11 largest municipal governments across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area held their regular weekly meeting to discuss the ongoing response to the COVID-19 resurgence across the region.
The Mayors and Chairs urged the Province to implement any such additional measures as soon as possible to address the concerning rise in cases and impacts on hospital capacity.
The Mayors and Chairs say they are ok with the reported decision of the provincial government not to implement a curfew as part of the additional measures. They look forward to working with the province to empower citizens to adopt even greater personal responsibility to defeat the virus working within the anticipated tighter restrictions.
The Mayors and Chairs reiterated the goal of doing everything they can to help vaccinate residents as quickly as possible. To that end they urge both federal and provincial governments to ensure a timely and equitable supply of vaccine across the GTHA.
The Mayors and Chairs repeated their insistence that the federal and Ontario governments sort out who should backstop workers who lose their pay cheque when they test positive for COVID-19. This continuing failure to backstop these workers is causing them not to get tested and in some cases to go to work sick for fear of not being able to support their families.
During today’s meeting, the Mayors and Chairs also discussed the need for the federal and provincial governments to at least formally commence discussions on 2021 funding for municipalities. Cities have been on the frontlines managing and responding to the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in increased costs for crucial services and lost revenues from things such as reduced transit ridership. The GTHA Mayors and Chairs are urging the other levels of government to make a commitment to cities and provide them vital funding through a Safe Restart Agreement 2.0.
The GTHA Mayors and Chairs welcome the funding provided for 2020 pandemic costs but recognize the need for further financial commitments. With the imminent rollout of a broader immunization plan, and the continued relief necessary for businesses and residents, municipalities are expecting to have increased service demands throughout 2021.
Commenting on the communique, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger said, “for those frontline and essential workers who have lost pay due to testing positive for COVID-19, we urge our federal and provincial partners to provide immediate supports including paid sick days, safe isolation facilities, and direct financial help. Investing in the safety of our communities should be a top priority.”