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OPSEU/SEFPO pleased to see employer offer COVID sick days

Toronto – OPSEU/SEFPO President Warren (Smokey) Thomas says it’s encouraging to see other employers starting to follow the union’s lead and provide more paid sick days to staff during the pandemic. 

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre has issued a memo informing staff the hospital is providing them seven additional paid COVID-19 sick days, on top of the three already announced by the provincial government. 

“This is very encouraging to see and I hope more employers step up like this,” said Thomas.  “Sunnybrook is setting an example that other employers must follow.” 

The move comes days after OPSEU/SEFPO announced it was increasing the number of sick days for its full-time staff from seven to 10 for the duration of the pandemic or until the end of their contracts, whichever comes first.  Temporary staff also are getting 10 paid sick days.   

OPSEU/SEFPO represents more than 350 front-line employees at Sunnybrook and St John’s Rehab.   The Sunnybrook announcement will benefit some OPSEU/SEFPO members who are part time. 

OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida says the union has led by example on increasing paid sick days and he hopes more employers get on board as Sunnybrook has. 

“This is an investment in fighting COVID that pays for itself as it reduces the odds of other staff becoming sick and in Sunnybrook’s case patients,” said Almeida.  “But all employers, whether they’re health care providers or in other sectors, should immediately boost sick days for the duration of the pandemic, it’s the smart play.” 

Ontario is at a critical crossroads in the middle of the third wave of the pandemic and it’s essential that employers in both the public and private sectors move quickly to give their employees more paid sick days. 

“Now is the time to put our foot on the gas pedal and take action,” said Thomas.  “We can beat this pandemic, but we need to use every tool available including more paid sick days, stepped up vaccinations and educating people on best practices to avoid spreading this virus.  We’re all in this together but let’s get in gear.”