Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President Danny Cavanagh says that Premier Rankin’s COVID-19 press conference today shows the provincial government does not understand how the federal sick leave program works.
“The federal program is flawed, insufficient and is not a replacement for having guaranteed paid sick leave. It will leave far too many essential front-line workers without income and job protection.
“Provincially mandated paid sick leave is much better because it will keep workers on the employer’s payroll without any interruption in pay,” says Cavanagh.
He added that the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) is paid out like Employment Insurance, which means workers need to apply and wait for days or weeks. The federal system cannot handle single days or just part of a pay period. Some of the eligibility requirements of CRSB are that workers are unable to work at least half of their scheduled shifts because they are sick with COVID-19, not another ailment. They must apply weekly like EI again after the first week, so that’s a big issue as is the eligibility requirement that applicants earn $5,000 or more in the last 12 months.
“The number of workers who apply for CRSB has dropped considerably which means workers are just going to work sick. This spreads disease unnecessarily, leading to a more workplace outbreaks, particularly where there are poor pay and working conditions. That is a huge public safety policy that the Premier and Dr. Strang need to understand. Workers going to work sick means more infections.
“We urge the premier to work with us to understand the issues and help us and thousands of workers in Nova Scotia by putting in place paid sick days,” says Cavanagh.