Better Pay and Benefits

Support workers to stem the spread of COVID-19

March 11, 2020

OTTAWA – Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government to implement all measures necessary to protect jobs and ensure public health measures stop the spread of COVID-19.

“Canadian workers are in a very tenuous situation right now. The majority have no paid sick leave and low cash reserves to buffer against unemployment. For many, missing work is not an option,” said Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) President Hassan Yussuff. “No one should be fired for self-quarantining or recovering from infection. We need to make sure the needs of all workers are moved to the top of the priority list as we position ourselves to respond to this evolving threat.”

While the Prime Minister acted quickly to form a cabinet committee to respond to the spread of the virus, Canada’s unions are calling on the Minister of Labour to be included in this response unit.

The CLC is also asking the federal government to consider a host of measures, including:

  • Additional paid days leave for all sick or self-isolated federally regulated workers, which includes the transportation sector, and encourage the provinces to follow suit.
  • That the CLC calls on the federal government and First Ministers meeting this week to declare that no one must be fired for self-quarantining or recovering from infection, and any worker losing their job for these reasons will be reinstated.
  • Implement a sharp reduction in Employment Insurance (EI) qualifying hours. The hours threshold prevents a significant proportion of low-income, non-standard workers from qualifying for EI benefits.
  • Implement temporary regulations that waive any requirement that claimants obtain a medical certificate if their employer, a public authority or a health care professional recommends or requires their quarantine. A simple declaration or attestation of the claimant could be required in place of a medical certificate.
  • Make available additional government funds through the EI program to provide special income relief for vulnerable workers and health sector workers who do not qualify for EI, but who may be subject to quarantine or became sick with COVID-19.

“If we’re going to ask anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to self-quarantine for 14 days, Canadians need to know the government has their backs,” added Yussuff. “We’re confident that our recommendations coupled with a commitment that no one will be fired for self-quarantining, will help limit the spread of this virus.”

CLC letter to the Prime Minister found here.

For more information:
CLC Media Relations

media@clcctc.ca 
613-526-7426

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