Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) have come out in favour of expanding the paid sick leave program. In a resolution aimed at both Ottawa and Queen’s Park the mayors say that many people are going to work sick, because they do not have adequate protection. The only reimbursement plan in place is a federal program that is time limited and only pays about $450 per week. The mayors say that the lack of sick pay also results in workers being reluctant to take a COVID test. A communique from the mayors says, “Given the current case count and the timeline for extensive vaccination coverage, OBCM is reiterating its call for an enhanced sick day program from the federal and provincial governments. Right now, too many workers across Ontario are having to choose between going to work sick or losing income. OBCM urges both the provincial and the federal government to implement a broader sick day program now that provides greater benefits and can be accessed by employees as quickly as possible.
On the plus side, the mayors praised the vaccination program, saying, “Rick Hillier and the provincial vaccination team are doing an incredible job of distributing vaccines as well as communicating to municipalities and to the public. OBCM members will continue to support the efforts to distribute the vaccine doses in an equitable fashion across the province and will make municipal resources available to support the provincial vaccination program.”
The province has largely covered the losses municipalities have incurred as a result of COVID in 2020. The mayors have asked that the program be extended to cover losses in the current year: “ OBCM looks forward to working with new Ontario Finance Minister, Peter Bethlenfalvy, to extend the Safe Restart Agreement for much needed financial support to Ontario municipalities in 2021.”
The full release is available here.