Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau is promising 10 sick days for federally regulated employees.
Trudeau made the promise on the federal election trail on Friday ahead of Canadians going to the polls on Sept. 21.
Read: What are the current provincial policies on emergency, sick leave amid the coronavirus pandemic?
“Before the pandemic hit, more than half of workers across Canada had no access to paid sick leave,” said a press release on the Liberal Party of Canada’s campaign website. “Canadians deserve safe workplaces and shouldn’t have to choose between their health and paying their bills. That’s why, if re-elected, we’ll introduce 10 days of paid sick leave for all federally regulated workers, so no one has to make that difficult choice.”
Read: Ontario giving employees three paid sick days, reimbursing employers
In response, New Democratic Party Leader Jagmeet Singh said in a press release on the NDP campaign’s website: “Trudeau has gone through four waves of the pandemic without giving workers paid sick leave. We’ve been calling on him to deliver paid sick leave for 18 months. Every day since then, people went to work sick because they didn’t have another way to pay their bills. Now, he wants us to believe he’ll do it after the election. He’s saying the right thing now, but he has no intention of doing it.”
Read: Federal budget highlights national childcare system, extension of pandemic subsidies
Debate about paid sick days has been a hot topic throughout the coronavirus pandemic, particularly between federal and provincial governments. As of early May, only two provinces were offering this benefit on a permanent basis. Ontario shifted its stance in late April — offering workers access to three paid sick days to them self-isolate amid the pandemic — but only after the federal government left a national sick-pay benefit unchanged in the federal budget earlier that month. And as government debated the issue, Canadian employers stepped up with their own paid sick leave policies.
Read: Canadian employers stepping up as controversy around paid sick days swirls