HALIFAX, NS, May 12, 2021 /CNW/ – While it is a positive first step Nova Scotia’s temporary and voluntary paid sick leave program falls short of providing the protection that all workers need.
«This paid sick leave program runs for a scant 82 days and will only benefit those who get sick or require time off to get a COVID test, get vaccinated or self-isolate within that time frame,» said Unifor National President Jerry Dias. «On top of that, it’s voluntary so it fails to protect workers employed at companies that don’t want to bother doing the reimbursement paperwork and simply opt out.»
The new Nova Scotia COVID-19 Sick Leave Program will provide up to four paid sick days between May 10, 2021, and July 31, 2021. The program covers wages up to a maximum of $20 per hour or $160 per day with a maximum payment of $640 dollars. Workers will be paid by their employers, who would then be reimbursed by the provincial government.
«Four paid sick days will help some workers get through the next few weeks of the pandemic but the reality is people will still get sick after COVID-19,» said Unifor Atlantic Regional Director Linda MacNeil. «This program also caps out at $20 an hour so many workers will still have to choose between their full pay and going to work sick. Premier Iain Rankin and his government can and must do better than this band-aid solution.»
Unifor has been calling for all provinces to legislate a minimum of seven universal employer-paid sick days, and fourteen days during the pandemic and related public health emergencies. The union has also actively campaigned for priority vaccine access for workers who have to work outside the house and paid time to receive their vaccination.
Nova Scotia is the first Atlantic province to introduce paid sick leave measures tied to the pandemic. In Prince Edward Island, workers must be employed for more than five years at the same company to be entitled to just one paid sick day and up to three unpaid days per year. New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador have failed to provide any paid sick days before or during the pandemic.
Unifor is Canada’s largest union in the private sector, representing 315,000 workers in every major area of the economy. The union advocates for all working people and their rights, fights for equality and social justice in Canada and abroad, and strives to create progressive change for a better future.