Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Thursday April 29, 2021
Ontario details plan for 3 paid sick days after a year of mounting pressure
After months of urgent calls about the need for paid sick leave by medical professionals, labour advocates, political leaders and even top doctors from some of the province’s hardest-hit regions, the Ontario government has announced a plan to provide three paid sick days through a temporary program ending in September.
The proposed Ontario COVID-19 Worker Protection Benefit Program would pay up to $200 per day for workers who are sick, have symptoms, have a mental health issue or need to be vaccinated, and will be retroactive to April 19. The sick days would not need to be taken consecutively and no sick note is required.
If the legislation is passed, the program will be administered through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board and employers will be reimbursed in full, the province says.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Ontario Labour Minister Monte McNaughton also said the province has offered to provide funding to the federal government to double the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit payments, adding an additional $500 per week to eligible individuals, for a total of $1,000 per week.
Ottawa earlier this week rejected an offer by the province to top up the program, saying the federal benefit is designed to support workers who don’t have a regular employer, or as a stop gap until their province mandates paid sick days.
Last week, Premier Doug Ford pledged that Ontario would soon unveil details of a paid sick leave program, claiming it would be “the best program anywhere in North America, bar none.”
But as reported by CBC News, the Ford government initially sought to top up the federal program, rather than create its own. On the same day as Ford’s emotional news conference, Ontario’s finance minister wrote a letter to the federal government proposing to top up Canada’s sick leave benefit.
Critics have long pointed out the federal benefit pays less than a full-time minimum wage job, involves days, if not weeks, of processing time and doesn’t guarantee job security for workers who use it.
The cost of the proposal announced today was not included in the provincial budget, unveiled in March.
Unlike Quebec and Prince Edward Island, where sick days are in place permanently, Ontario’s proposed program ends in just five months. The province has has passed legislation that protects workers’ jobs if they can’t work due to a COVID-19 diagnosis. (CBC)
Letters to the editor – The Hamilton Spectator – Saturday May 1, 2021
Blame Trudeau, not Ford
I have to say I was aghast at the editorial cartoon of Doug Ford being whipped. It is no secret that The Spec is no fan of Mr. Ford, however to publish him being whipped and the prime minister watching is way over the line of decency and respect. Has he made mistakes, of course, some big ones, however keep in mind it is the prime minster, who you show sitting eating popcorn, who is ultimately responsible for this mess, due to poor vaccine procurement. There is enough blame to go around these days. I fail to see what this piece of work does to move anything forward.
Robert Hague, Burlington
Outraged at cartoon
I usually enjoy Mr. MacKay’s editorial cartoons, although he can push the envelope at times.
But I must profess my outrage at Thursday’s depiction of the premier of Ontario being publicly flogged. We are constantly preaching about being against violence and hate in our province but here is a depiction of an act of torture aimed at the leader of the province. People may or may not like Doug Ford and have their own opinions but this is going too far!
Rick Allen, Hamilton Mountain
Trudeau didn’t belong there
This cartoon was spot on about Ford. But putting Trudeau in was unfair. Dealing with employers is provincial jurisdiction and it’s Ford’s problem to solve, not Trudeau’s.
Sarah Mueller, Burlington