KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Premier Stephen McNeil seemingly called on workers looking for paid sick leave to join a union and engage in the collective bargaining process.
The premier explained the benefits of unionization at yesterday’s COVID-19 press conference after All Nova Scotia journalist Lyndsay Armstrong asked the premier to respond to a federal proposal that would guarantee 10 days of paid sick leave a year for every worker in Canada.
“I have been very clear, that’s a collective bargaining process at the bargaining table. As you know, a lot of people here already have paid sick days in the public sector,” the premier said.
“I believe the national government can through its unemployment insurance program ensure if someone needs to be tested for Covid to give them that test period whether it is 3 to 4 days, and wait for results to come back. That would be a good first step, as both private and public entities negotiate the sick benefit through the collective bargaining process.”
Paid sick days are seen as a way to ensure that precarious and low paid workers don’t spread the virus by reporting for work when sick, just because they have bills to pay and can’t afford to lose the hours.
Meanwhile, Nova Scotia’s labour standard, considered one of the weakest in Canada, only provides for 3 days of unpaid sick leave per year.
There is a flaw in the premier’s response. In 2016 only 30 % of the Nova Scotia workforce was unionized, Statistics Canada reports. In the private sector that number is only 12%.
Oh, make that two flaws. The premier is also famous for removing the right to strike and impose contracts on many of its workers.
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