A promise by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to work toward implementing 10 days sick leave for all Canadian workers is being saluted by Skeena-Bulkley Valley NDP MP, Taylor Bachrach.
Under regular circumstances, B.C. employers are not mandated under the Employment Standards Act to provide any sick days at all.
“I heard from many people in the Northwest worried about how they would pay bills and get by if they got sick. If we are to continue to flatten the curve and stop the spread of COVID-19, every Canadian needs to be able to stay home if they are sick. We owe it to everyone in our community to keep each other safe,” Bachrach said on May 25.
“Throughout this pandemic, we have been focused on working constructively with the government to secure tangible benefits for Canadians.”
The PM’s commitment on 10 days sick leave was pushed by federal NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, in exchange for the party’s support for the Liberals proposal to waive normal sittings in the House of Commons. The proposal is in preference of expanding the special COVID-19 committee that has been acting as a type of stand-in for the past few weeks.
With the Liberals being a minority government, they need the backing of at least one of the major parties to pass the motion. The agreement between the NDP and the government includes extending virtual sittings of Parliament, increasing the frequency of meetings to four days a week, with additional sittings throughout the summer.
Bachrach said that increasing the number of meetings means he will be able raise issues constituents are concerned about in a safe and responsible way while the government will continue to be held accountable in parliament.
“I’ll be virtually calling in everyday to ensure that voices in our region are heard loud and clear without the health risk that would come with traveling across the country,” Bachrach stated.
“We will keep pushing the government to make sure they deliver on this commitment and that they work with provinces to make sick leave for workers permanent going forward,” Singh said.
“Every worker should have access to paid sick leave. Workers need to know they have the ability to choose to stay home with pay if they are sick,” Singh said.
“No one should be forced to make the impossible choice between going to work sick or not being able to pay their bills. Workers want to go back to work – we need to make sure they can go back to work safely.”
The move is backed by B.C. Premier John Horgan who said in a joint statement with the Premiers of Yukon and Manitoba, that they will continue to work with the Prime Minister and other provinces and territories, to move forward and ensure all Canadians have the protection they need during this pandemic.
“We’re pleased that the federal government is looking at a sick leave program that protects people and businesses, and we look forward to advancing this initiative. Paid sick leave is crucial for the safe restart of our economy, ” the statement said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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