Ontarians rejoice! After over a year of tireless advocacy from workers and healthcare advocates, the Ontario government has finally taken a major step in halting the spread of COVID 19 by proposing workers receive 3 paid sick days to be divided between them as they see fit.
“Ontarians have suffered too long as COVID has been allowed to spread in crowded workplaces, with little support for employees to effectively protect themselves, their coworkers and their families,” Premier Doug Ford said in a statement this morning. “That’s why we’re proud to announce this proposal, which will help protect worker safety without impacting productivity so much that we’d have to use the billions of dollars of federal aid we’ve had access to since last year.”
Public health officials are applauding the new plan, which would allow exhausted essential workers to use sick leave in a way that makes sense for them.
“Workers in different circumstances will need to use their share of the province-wide 3-days sick time in different ways,” healthcare advocate Jack Qwo told reporters. “For example, a working mom whose child has just been diagnosed with COVID can use 20-30 seconds of sick leave to attend an appointment with their kid’s pediatrician. Whereas a front-line warehouse worker with a bad cough and a headache might need to take a longer leave of two to four minutes to go across town for a COVID test, wait for results, and self-isolate for two weeks in the event it’s positive.”
“Provided he gets someone to cover his shift, of course,” Qwo added.
However despite this early optimism, some are concerned the new system is ripe for exploitation. “Look, I’m all for people getting to stay home if they’re actually sick,” Toronto resident Amy Plun told reporters. “But I don’t want my tax dollars going to support someone missing 0.00000000001% of a day’s work because they ‘might’ have ‘COVID’ or ‘work’ in ‘enclosed spaces’ with ‘hundreds’ of ‘other human beings deserving of basic safety.’”
“All I can say is if somebody comes back from a seven-minute sick leave without even bothering to get a doctor’s note to prove they weren’t just home watching Beachcombers reruns, my MPP will be getting a sternly-worded letter.”
Employees will soon be able to book their sick time using a simple application procedure that changes every day. For more information, workers can visit the City of Toronto website, or possibly the Ministry of Health website, or maybe just ask around on social media until someone’s nephew finds a number to call. The number will have one digit wrong and will connect to a pizza place, but hopefully someone there will know what’s going on.
In the meantime, the provincial government has unveiled a nice big signup chart where Ontarians can “go ahead and get in there and start penciling in time”, however to prevent the spread of COVID workers are strictly required to bring their own writing implements.