Trudeau commits to working with provinces on paid sick leave

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has confirmed he’ll work with the provinces on creating 10 days of paid sick leave for all Canadians.

“Nobody should have to choose between taking a day off work due to illness and having to pay their bills,” he said in his daily briefing on Monday. “That’s why the government will continue discussions with the provinces without delay on ensuring that, as we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic, every worker in Canada who needs it has access to 10 days of paid sick leave a year and we’ll also consider other mechanisms for the longer term to support workers with sick leave.”

The promise was part of negotiations with the New Democratic Party to continue to waive the normal House of Commons sittings and instead continue to expand the special coronavirus committee that has acted as a stand-in since April. The Conservative party is advocating for a return to normal sittings, with no more than 50 members of parliament in the chambers at a time.

Read: A refresher on Canada’s leave policies as coronavirus escalates

“If the government does not deliver on paid sick leave for all Canadians and real supports for Canadians with disabilities, then we will not support the motion,” said NDP leader Jagmeet Singh at a press conference on Monday.

He proposed that the government use the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or employment insurance to deliver paid sick leave immediately, but said longer-term solutions would require working with the provinces and employers.

On Tuesday, in the House of Commons, Singh said Trudeau’s promise was a good start but didn’t meet the NDP’s requirements. “We’ve seen a positive announcement today by the prime minister, but it is not enough,” he said. “We need to see the action as well. And we are hopeful that action will be coming.”

The government must also make good on a promise to provide more support to Canadians with disabilities who are struggling during the pandemic, added Singh.

Read: Sick leave, accommodation, mental-health considerations for a post-pandemic return to work