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Business has to do what’s right and send workers home

Warren (Smokey) Thomas in a blue suit standing at a podiu
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Toronto — Now is the time for Ontario’s business leaders to step up and do what’s right in the face of the biggest health threat this province has ever seen, says OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas.

“We are calling on the province’s business leaders to send workers home for the next two weeks with full pay,” says Thomas. “This includes part-time and precarious workers. We must do this to help stop the spread of this disease. This is not the time to be thinking about bottom lines; this is a call to arms in a battle of a generation.”

Despite not having a single employee test positive for COVID-19, OPSEU closed its offices province-wide on March 12, choosing to err on the side of caution. OPSEU employees won’t lose pay or credits for doing their part.

“This is a global epidemic, and everyone has to do their part to ensure public safety. Government and the taxpayer can’t be the only ones making sacrifices,” says Thomas. “While we understand that putting our economy on hold will have its effects, please just think of what the alternative could be. Please don’t think of this as a cost; think of it as an investment. At this point, limiting non-essential person-to-person contact is the answer to slowing down the spread of COVID-19.”

Ontario’s health care professionals are the best in the world and are on the front lines to combat this virus head-on. However, even those strong defences will crack if precautions aren’t taken.

“We must let our health care officials do their jobs, without overwhelming them. That’s how we help them get this under control,” says Thomas. “If each of us doesn’t do our part to contain the spread, we’re doing a disservice to our frontline workers who are working tirelessly for the people they care for, and we risk compromising workers’ health, too. Let’s unite and stop putting people at risk.”

“Today’s world is an incredibly flexible place. Allowing employees to work from home is easier than it has ever been and should be encouraged where and when possible. For those whose jobs and businesses involve direct contact with the public, it has to be reiterated that limiting face-to-face or close contact today is the proper method to ensure your business can thrive tomorrow. If we stick together, we will prevail.”