May 13, 2021
MEDIA RELEASE: Paid sick days reimbursement plan is inadequate
The Halifax Workers Action Centre (“Halifax-WAC”) says the Liberal Government’s plan to provide a reimbursement to employers for providing paid sickness leave to employees is a move in the right direction, but the plan falls far short of what Nova Scotia workers need.
“The new program is a start, but it is an inadequate response to the pressing need for paid sick days,” said Katrin MacPhee, an employment lawyer and volunteer with the Halifax-WAC.
MacPhee says the plan is inadequate in the following ways:
- The number of days (4) is insufficient, a minimum of ten paid sick days is required to compensate workers for an entire fourteen-day self-isolation period;
- The program should be permanent, currently it is only available between May 10 and July 31 2021;
- The program’s eligibility criteria are very narrow: it is only open to people who can’t work remotely and who miss less than 50 per cent of their scheduled work time in a one-week period due to COVID-19;
- The maximum reimbursement per worker is $640 over a 12-week period, which is inadequate to compensate for workers who miss a significant amount of time due to COVID-19.
MacPhee added, “Workers need permanent access to universal, fully-paid, accessible paid sick leave. Anything short of that perpetuates the issue of workers needing to choose between making ends meet and protecting their health and the health of others.”
The Halifax-WAC is a not-for-profit committed to improving the lives and working conditions of low-waged and marginalized workers. It provides systemic advocacy through campaigns like the Fight for 15 and Fairness and one-on-one support for workers facing difficulty in their individual employment relationships.