FIFSW faculty statement on funding paid sick leave
The Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work joins colleagues at the University of Toronto’s History Department and academics at universities across Ontario in condemning the provincial government’s refusal over 13 months of the COVID-19 pandemic to consider funding paid sick leave and paid time off for vaccinations for essential workers.
As our colleagues write, there have been “multiple calls” for the province to implement policy changes “from the members of its own COVID-19 Science Table, leading public health experts, as well as ER and ICU physicians.” The Ontario government’s proposal, which includes providing 3 days of paid sick leave and augmenting the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), is insufficient to cover sick days during this devastating pandemic. The average period of infectiousness is longer than three days, as is the time required to recover from COVID-19.
“The provincial government’s evident disregard for scientific advice is costing the health and lives of the most vulnerable Ontarians, many of whom are racialized people, immigrants, women, single parents, the homeless, the disabled and the underhoused,” write U of T historians.
It is crucial to emphasize that racialized communities, people living in poverty, and women, who are more likely to work as essential workers in long-term care, health care jobs, warehouse and factory workplaces, are less likely to be eligible for paid sick leave. As the Woman Abuse Council of Toronto write, “Paid sick leave is a gender issue.”
Indeed, paid sick leave must extend to all workers, including migrant workers in the Seasonal Agricultural Program, and Migrant caregivers and other workers who have a precarious immigration status. This can be accomplished by using tax ID for eligibility instead of a SIN number, as a tax ID is issued to all workers including those with a precarious immigration status.
This is an urgent and critically important issue. If not adequately addressed now, we will experience the effects of this decision (including long term health problems and poverty) for years to come. It is a matter of life and death for those most vulnerable among us.
This statement was crafted by FIFSW faculty members Rupaleem Bhuyan, Tara Black, Kyle Ganson, and Peter Newman.