Hatfield renews call for paid sick days in Ontario

Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield of the NDP rises on the floor of the Ontario Legislature, Toronto, November 17, 2020. Image courtesy Ontario Legislature.

A local member of the Ontario Legislature has called on the provincial government to consider more paid sick days for people dealing with COVID-19.

Windsor-Tecumseh MPP Percy Hatfield rose at Queens Park this week to express support for Bill 239, the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act. The bill would allow for seven paid sick days, plus an additional 14 days during a health crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill was introduced by Hatfield’s NDP colleague, London West’s Peggy Sattler.

Hatfield pointed out that health units across the province, including the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit, are in favour of seeking additional paid time off.

“My health unit in Windsor and Essex County has joined 16 others in support of paid sick leave during this pandemic,” said Hatfield. “A letter to the Premier this week calls on the Premier to support Bill 239.”

In response, Burlington MPP Jane McKenna, parliamentary secretary for Labour Minister Monte McNaughton, said that the Conservative government has already made headway with Ottawa in getting sick days for Ontario workers, and additional time off in the province would be overkill.

“Premier Ford has demonstrated that he is leading a collaborative approach to supporting workers in Ontario by partnering on an initiative with the federal Liberal government,” said McKenna. “I’d invite the NDP again to drop the partisan language and begin working with us for the betterment of the workers in Ontario.”

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) provides up to $500 in weekly support for those forced to stay home due to illness or quarantine, with a two-week limit. Critics say the CRSB is not a replacement for paid sick days.

Bill 239 completed second-reading debate Thursday, according to the Ontario Legislature’s website, and a vote on passing second reading was deferred.