Canada’s unions welcome federal legislation on paid sick leave and protecting health care workers
Bruske: we will keep fighting until every worker in Canada has access to paid sick leave
OTTAWA – Canada’s unions are welcoming today’s announcement of new legislation making 10 days of paid sick leave available for all workers in federally-regulated workplaces as a positive step forward for public health and worker protection.
“Paid sick leave saves lives. We thank the federal government for taking this important step forward to better protect workers and create safer workplaces,” said Bea Bruske, President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “We have seen throughout the pandemic that if workers can’t stay home when sick, our communities pay a price with more COVID outbreaks and worse public health outcomes. We call on all parties to work together to quickly pass this bill.”
Bruske added that protecting workers must also include protecting their right to access sick leave when they need it, pointing to how some of the provincial programs have been underutilized, especially for non-unionized staff, because of pressure from employers. This has been particularly true for the people tasked with caring for others, including health care workers, child care workers and long-term care workers.
“Many unionized workers have already won hard-fought access to paid sick leave,” said Bruske. “Now we need to make sure this new sick leave program is designed to be used – and employees are no longer pressured to come to work when sick or fear losing their job.”
Bruske also said Canada’s unions welcome new measures to protect health care workers from harassment but cautioned that the right to strike and organize must be explicitly protected in any new law.
“The Charter of Rights protects workers’ rights to organize, unionize and, when necessary, go out on picket lines,” said Bruske. “Through unions, workers have achieved so much – from the 5-day work week to things like paid sick leave. It is vital that any new law protects the rights of workers.”
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