Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh is pleased with the announcement that the federal, provincial and territorial governments have reached a deal on federal funding of $19 billion through the “Safe Restart Agreement.” “It’s still short on details, but it looks promising for things like ten paid days of sick leave, and we hope the Minister of Labour and the Nova Scotia Government jump on board. This sick-leave program is essential because nobody should feel pressured to work sick and lifting that anxiety from workers will be a relief for their mental health.
“We are pleased to see items like childcare as we have been calling for public childcare for a long time, and now would be an excellent time to make that move. Providing affordable and accessible public childcare will remove significant barriers holding many parents back,” Cavanagh says.
The federal government has a $2.5 billion promise for federal transfers to early learning and childcare. It’s time for this country to have a system of affordable, accessible public childcare supported by the provinces.
Cavanagh says he knows that many small businesses are struggling and need help, and they should be a priority over the larger corporations that may not need as much. Personal protective equipment for workers is an employer’s responsibility under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. The bottom line is that workers need protection, and companies should not become too reliant on governments to provide proper equipment. There is also a massive opportunity for the procurement of locally made Nova Scotia personal protective equipment (PPE). We would encourage more government support for local and domestic manufacturing/plant conversion to produce the needed PPE to help drive our local economy.
“We hope many of those employers will also join the call for paid sick days. Why would any employer want its employees to come to work ill? Getting ten days of paid sick leave funded by the federal government to discourage workers with precarious employment from going into work sick and this must be supported by government and employers. On the provision of paid sick leave, the details are going to be crucial. We hope that the government intends to make this benefit permanent. We’ll be asking the questions: Why wouldn’t employers and government support ill workers recuperate at home, instead of infecting co-workers and the public by going to work sick. Ten paid sick days must be a permanent measure? If European and OECD countries can provide paid sick leave for workers without the sky falling, why can’t Canada?
“Municipal governments need help, and we hope they get it and that the money earmarked to keep transit operations goes there. It’s one thing for Premier McNeil to welcome the deal, now it’s time to open up the legislature to debate where and how this money will be spent,” says Cavanagh.