Annual Day of Mourning bolsters call for paid sick days

Missing Worker Memorial. photo by Melanie Irwin.

Wednesday’s National Day of Mourning has heightened calls for Ontario to implement paid sick days for workers.

Sarnia & District Labour Council President Jason McMichael said it’s a day to “remember the folks that we’ve lost, while also recommitting to fighting like hell for the workers that are still here.”

McMichael said paid sick days would go a long way in that fight.

“Certainly paid sick days would help ensure that sick workers aren’t having to decide between going to work sick so they can feed their families, or they stay home to protect their workplaces — it would help make that decision easier for them. It’s a shame that we have workers faced with decisions like that.”

On Tuesday, Labour Minister and Lambton-Kent-Middlesex MPP Monte McNaughton confirmed the province won’t legislate provincial paid sick leave.

The province is calling on the Trudeau Liberals to up the federal paid sick day program from $500 to $1,000 a week, with Ontario covering the cost of the increase.

McMichael said the pandemic has added even more significance to the annual Day of Mourning.

“We’ve lost an unprecedented amount of workers this pandemic. In Canada, we’ve lost over 50 frontline healthcare workers, and they go to work everyday — they’re the real heroes because they’re fighting an invisible enemy. But we’ll see it through and I’m confident that we’ll eventually come out on top, but it’s been quite a year for the frontline workers, that’s for sure.”

McMichael said a virtual presentation will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. to observe the Day of Mourning that’s held internationally on April 28.

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