November 23rd, 2021

Horwath and the NDP reignite fight for paid sick days

NDP bill on paid sick days to be debated and voted on Wednesday

QUEEN’S PARK — Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath and the NDP are reigniting the fight for paid sick days, including 10 permanent paid sick days for all workers and an additional 14 paid sick days during any pandemic.

“For months, every time a frontline hero had a cough or fever, Ford forced them to choose between dragging themselves into work sick and putting their coworkers at risk — or losing pay,” said Horwath. “In January, when kids get the sniffles their parents shouldn’t have to miss out on a day’s pay to do the right thing, and stay home together.

“The NDP is reigniting the fight for paid sick days. All workers deserve the right to protect themselves and everyone around them by staying home when they’re sick.”

MPPs Jill Andrew (Toronto—St. Paul’s), Peggy Sattler (London West), Doly Begum (Scarborough Southwest) and Sara Singh (Brampton Centre) teamed up to submit the bill to entrench paid sick days in law. The Stay Home if You Are Sick Act guarantees 10 permanent paid days which can be used for illness or to care for family, plus 14 government-funded paid sick days during a pandemic. It includes financial help for small businesses that cover employees that take a sick day.

On Dec. 31, Doug Ford is taking away the three paid sick days Ontarians temporarily won in April after applying months of pressure. Those three sick days have been all that’s available to workers for nine long pandemic months.

“COVID-19 makes people sick for at least 14 days,” said Andrew, who will lead off the debate Tuesday. “For a year during the pandemic the Ford government fought against giving workers paid sick days because they didn’t want to spend the money. In that time, 455,000 Ontarians were infected and nearly 8,000 died of COVID. When he finally caved, Ford’s three paid sick days were a tragic case of doing far too little, far too late — and now he’s taking them away. We need all MPPs from all parties to join us in giving workers the right to stay home if they are sick.”

After refusing paid sick days for 15 years, the Liberals finally introduced just two annual paid sick days in 2018. Once elected, the Ford government immediately cut them.

The NDP bill will be debated and have its crucial second reading vote on Wednesday.


Sara Singh (Brampton Centre)
“When going to work sick is the only option, it puts us all at risk. Whether it’s COVID or the flu, no one should have to work next to a co-worker that’s coughing and spreading germs. People deserve so much better. We need to give workers the ability to do the right thing – stay home when they’re sick.”

Doly Begum (Scarborough Southwest)
“An estimated 60 per cent of Ontarians do not have permanent paid sick days, and that number is far higher among workers in sectors like food service, hospitality and retail, and among racialized or immigrant people. These are the very frontline heroes we have applauded during the pandemic. Our thanks isn’t enough. They deserve decent wages and workplace rights that respect their health — including the right to stay home when they are truly ill.

Peggy Sattler (London West)
“Workers without paid sick days are the people we have relied on most during the pandemic. They cared for our seniors, served us food, cleaned our buildings, and bagged our groceries. And anytime they get sick, or their child wakes up with a sore throat, they have been forced to make an impossible choice — because staying home means giving up the pay they need.”

Helmi Ansari, CEO and Co-founder of GROSCHE International Inc. in Cambridge
“For businesses to avoid workplace outbreaks Paid Sick days are essential. When our staff is unwell, we don’t want them to come to work and potentially pass anything on to co-workers. An outbreak at work would be devastating to us. It would be bad for our people and bad for our business too.”

Carolina Jimenez, RN, MPH, Decent Work and Health Member
“Health experts have been relentless in the fight for paid sick days since before the pandemic, and through every single wave of COVID-19. The medical evidence is clear that workplace protections are essential for public health. We've seen firsthand that 10 permanent paid sick days are necessary to slow and prevent the spread of infection. I’m worried about what’s ahead this winter if we don't legislate permanent and adequate paid sick days, especially with Ontario’s three temporary sick days expiring.”