Warren Smokey Thomas and Eddy Almeida

OPSEU/SEFPO calls on Ontario legislature to support essential workers by passing Bill 239

OPSEU/SEFPO is calling on the Ontario legislature to show its commitment to essential workers by moving quickly to pass Bill 239, Stay Home If You Are Sick Act, 2020.

The bill, which includes paid infectious disease leave, would grant automatic paid sick time to all workers and significantly reduce community transmission of COVID-19.

Bill 239 would be particularly important for thousands of OPSEU/SEFPO’s part-time, temporary, casual and student workers in Ontario’s colleges.  They have continued working on-campus throughout the pandemic to ensure the best possible education for students. COVID-19 poses a serious threat to these essential workers, who don’t have paid sick leave to fall back on if they become infected.

Our union recognizes the efforts of the College Employer Council, which has come part of the way to support these workers by offering two paid sick days to on-site workers who need time off to get tested and await the result.

But these workers are left without a safety net if their test results come back positive.  They are left without pay while they isolate and recover.

The government’s refusal to mandate paid sick days for the duration of this pandemic, instead deferring to the federal government’s Canadian Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), is short-sighted and reckless. The benefit is retroactive, meaning part-time, temporary, casual and student workers in our colleges don’t get immediate help when they need it.  They also must apply for the benefit, which puts up another barrier.

OPSEU/SEFPO asks all MPPs to consider the significant, positive effect that Bill 239 would have on the lives of our essential workers, and the massive role it would play in minimizing the effects of this pandemic.

By passing Bill 239, our front-line heroes would get the support they deserve. It would ensure that all workers, including the part-time, temporary, casual and student workers in our colleges, can afford to stay at home when they’re sick and help keep us all safe.

Warren (Smokey) Thomas, OPSEU/SEFPO President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer