It’s been another busy day in Ontario politics, with today’s headlining news being the Ford government releasing their paid sick days plan. Let me say this clearly – this scheme falls far short of the mark of what we need in this province and is just not an acceptable replacement for Bill 239, which the Ontario NDP tabled in the legislature in December of 2020 – a bill which would have permanently guaranteed workers in Ontario 14 government-funded paid sick days during a pandemic.
The bill as proposed would give workers just three paid sick days and is set to expire in September.
Here’s the reality: we’re over a year into the COVID-19 pandemic here in Ontario, and nearly 8,000 people in our province have died of COVID-19, while over 450,000 have been infected. We need a genuine, good faith program that will allow folks who are sick, or who have been exposed to COVID-19, to take the time off that they need without facing financial hardship. It’s absolutely critical to slowing the spread of the virus to do this – expert after expert has said so.
Not giving people that flexibility will mean that members of our community will be forced to go to work when they shouldn’t, just to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table.
Any legislation that doesn’t eliminate this reality for our most vulnerable is simply not good enough.
You can read more about their proposal here.
Today is of course also the Day of Mourning, a day when we honour everyone who has lost their life or been injured at work. During this trying year, let’s recommit to fighting for safer workplaces in our province, and remembering just how important it is that we’re all able to be safe at work. While we knew this before COVID-19, living through a global pandemic has certainly put this into the clearest focus imaginable.
One of the things that we can all do, and that we must all do to help keep our workplaces safe right now, is following all the best public health advice. That means making sure that we’re only leaving our homes for essential purposes, that we’re wearing our masks diligently when we do leave, and that we maintain our physical distancing from one another. These simple steps, that we’ve all heard time and time again, remain critical in our battle with COVID-19.
Throughout the pandemic, we’ve seen many events turn digital to adhere to public health guidance. Today, I’m very excited to share with you that the Jane’s Walk Festival has adjusted to COVID-19, and has a full slate of digital tours, movie screenings, panel discussions, and more that you can participate in from May 7-9. All of the events are free, and they’re all online!
If you are interested in finding more about this year’s festival, check out their website here!
On a more personal note, I’d also like to share that coming up tomorrow there is a short documentary – actually about me – that will be screening for free through Hot Docs. It’s called Body Politics, and it was shot by my incredible partner Aisha Fairclough.
If you’re interested in checking it out, or another Hot Docs film, click here.
Finally, today in the Legislature I had the opportunity to ask the Conservative government two questions from our community. First, I asked a question regarding the cancellation of many surgeries across Ontario. Second, I asked a question about the continued delays in the Ontario Small Business Grant Program.
You can watch my questions here, and here.