Open letter from health workers

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All workers, particularly these in low-wage and precarious employment, want 10 everlasting paid sick days or their health will endure, ailments corresponding to COVID-19 might be extra prone to unfold — and extra folks will find yourself within the hospital.

That’s the message greater than 160 physicians, nurses and different health-care workers are sending to the province with an open letter printed Friday, calling on the federal government to legislate 10 paid sick days for all workers, public or non-public.

The letter was created by the Decent Work and health Network, a health and labour rights advocacy group operated by health-care workers.

health workers and advocates who signed the letter instructed the Star it’s unacceptable the province has not already made the change, two years right into a pandemic that has disproportionately led to the hospitalization of racialized and low-income workers who do not need sick depart.

Ahead of a seventh wave that would come within the fall, all workers want as a lot safety as they will get, they stated.

The letter comes because the three momentary paid sick days, referred to as the Worker Income Protection Benefit, for COVID-related points will expire on the finish of July. It was launched in April 2021 following pressure from public health specialists. When it was launched, it confronted criticism that more days are needed and that it ought to have been carried out earlier.

“Our patients should not have to choose between putting food on the table and following public health advice to stay home when sick,” the letter states.

It additionally says the present Ontario profit has all the time been insufficient and “far from what front-line workers needed.”

“With the program’s expiration date looming, we fear that the government will turn its back on our patients in the most vulnerable situations.”

Paid sick days are related to a decreased unfold of an infection, elevated vaccination charges, and fewer emergency-room visits, it states.

“This call has been echoed by health providers, public health officials, experts, since the onset of the pandemic,” stated Birgit Umaigba, a signatory and Toronto-based ICU nurse.

“Once a worker has used those three paid sick days, they’re not (renewable). If they get sick again with COVID-19, they do not qualify. This open letter renews that call because it’s long past time for action.”

Umaigba stated she has taken care of colleagues who bought COVID from colleagues, as a result of they went to work sick. With inflation at a four-decade excessive, few can afford to remain dwelling with out pay, she stated.

“Immigrants and racialized groups are overrepresented with precarious work … and are least likely to have paid sick days.”

It’s tough for workers in precarious jobs to ask for paid sick days they’re entitled to, information/gta/2021/06/20/who-is-using-ontarios-temporary-paid-sick-days-and-why-new-data-provides-clues.html”>earlier Star reporting has proven.

Racialized workers and newcomers to Canada usually take precarious jobs to make ends meet and so they have been information/gta/2021/05/01/an-inferno-why-this-brampton-neighbourhood-is-at-the-centre-of-ontarios-devastating-third-wave.html”>disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

Only 42 per cent of workers in Canada have entry to paid sick depart. That quantity drops to 10 per cent for low-wage workers within the nation, in response to a 2021 report from Decent Work and health.

In February, Ottawa urged all provinces to adopt 10 paid sick days — although the federal authorities has not delivered on a promise to launched 10 paid sick days for federal staff.

No province or territory has since taken up the decision. British Columbia launched 5 everlasting paid sick days in January for workers who’ve labored for his or her employer for at the least 90 days. Other provinces and territories have launched paid sick depart because the pandemic started, however most are a part of momentary applications.

Toronto’s medical officer of health additionally printed a report in January 2021 urging the Ontario authorities to implement five paid sick days, and introduce 10 throughout an infectious illness outbreak.

When Ontario launched the three paid momentary sick days, Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, stated the province was moving in the right direction however the federal authorities was not working quick sufficient to get different COVID-19 advantages to Ontarians.

A ballot from the Ontario Federation of Labour launched when the province introduced in these sick days discovered that information/gta/2021/04/22/ontarians-show-overwhelming-support-for-paid-sick-days-and-pandemic-tax-poll-finds.html”>83 per cent of Ontarians surveyed supported the federal government making employers pay for sick days.

Some enterprise/2021/02/10/small-businesses-join-chorus-asking-ontario-to-legislate-paid-sick-days.html”>small companies additionally voiced their assist for paid sick days in February final 12 months.

Workers not solely want paid sick days for themselves, they want to have the ability to keep dwelling with their kids in the event that they get sick, stated Dr. Shazeen Suleman, a pediatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital who signed the letter.

Young kids could have 10 to fifteen colds a 12 months, and infrequently when kids are very younger, they’ll get severely sick, she stated.

“A child doesn’t have any choice of when they are getting sick,” stated Suleman. “If their parent doesn’t have access to a paid sick day they are having to either send them to school sick and go to work to put food on the table, or take care of their child.

“It’s low-wage workers who are typically denied the ability to stay at home. Therefore their children are going to be the ones who can’t get the care when they need it.”

Paid sick days must be the highest precedence for Ontario and it could be a transfer to towards better labour and racial justice, as racialized teams are impacted essentially the most by lack of paid sick days, stated Dr. Naheed Dosani, the health fairness lead at Kensington health and member of the Decent Work and health Network.

“This is something that needs to be put into place because we have seen the impact of a severely strained health-care system right now,” he stated.

“Have we not learned any lessons from the immense suffering front-line workers had to go through?”

With recordsdata from Sara Mojtehedzadeh and Robert Benzie

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