Board of Health gives support for permanent paid sick leave

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SUDBURY – The Sudbury Board of Health has endorsed a motion that agrees with the idea that employees in Ontario should get permanent paid sick days, even though concerns were raised in regards to the motion.

“With all the shutdowns and businesses struggling to stay afloat; then having to pay for sick leave for employees this could be breaking the bank for them,” stated Ken Noland, Manitoulin Island representative on the board at a meeting last week. 

The motion was discussed and passed at the board’s meeting last week. It states in part, “whereas the gap in access to paid sick days is a longstanding health equity issue, which has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic; whereas data demonstrates that the gap in access to paid sick days is associated with transmission of infectious illnesses at workplaces, including COVID-19; whereas staying at  home is  one of the most effective containment strategies for infectious disease; however, without public policy to support this decision, behavioural recommendations are limited in their effectiveness; paid sick days also promote preventive care, create savings in the health care system and reduce presenteeism (going to work while sick) with cost savings for businesses.
The motion goes on to record, “whereas permanent and legislated paid sick days through employment standards are an effective measure to protect public health during pandemics and beyond, to curb the spread of all infectious diseases; therefore be it resolved that Public Health Sudbury and Districts express support to the government of Ontario to support the calls for the permanent inclusion of paid sick leave provisions under the Employment Standards Act, as a public health measure to prevent transmission of communicable diseases including COVID-19.”

PHSD Medical Officer of Health Dr. Penny Sutcliffe had recommended the motion as a way to prevent Ontario workers from having to choose between unpaid time off work or continuing to go to work when they are sick.