KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – We cannot understand what’s wrong with Education Minister Zach Churchill. Why doesn’t he understand that many people are struggling and have fears about the return to school?
We continue to be baffled by the assumption in the reopening plan that all families have the resources to simply “stay the blazes home” when their students exhibit symptoms of COVID-19. The Minister clearly fails to understand that thousands of families cannot afford to take time off without paid sick leave.
We are fearful that under the Minister’s plan the possibility of workers with kids in school without access to paid sick leave may opt to send their children to school despite symptoms or positive test results, or be unable to take the time needed for their children to be tested for COVID-19 when needed.
Many parents of children in school cannot afford to self-isolate without paid sick leave and it will jeopardize others in their workplaces. It will not be easy for parents to decide to work from home or just take time off especially for precarious workers. Without paid sick time, parents and children can’t self-isolate.
We all know that thousands of families are living paycheque to paycheque now. Doubling down on a school plan that forces parents to choose between following public health guidelines and being able to afford rent and groceries will have disastrous consequences for us all.
It is shameful that the Nova Scotia government is putting families in a situation of losing income because it will not mandate and fund paid sick leave.
We are calling on Minister Churchill and his government to ensure workers have paid sick leave as soon as possible. Paid sick leave is a plan the federal government supports. Nova Scotia must get on board and show the leadership needed to protect workers and the community as a whole.
Click here to write the Premier and the Minister of Labour and urge the government to ensure all Nova Scotians have access to paid sick time.
Danny Cavanagh is president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour
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