The Ford government’s proposal to increase the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) instead of legislating paid sick days is not what Ontarians need, said the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) Ontario.

“We have been crystal clear from the first day of this crisis,” said Fred Hahn, President of CUPE Ontario. “Ontarians need this government to legislate universal, employer-provided, and permanent paid sick days that is easy to access. Doubling payments, while helpful for those who can access the federal benefit, is just doubling down on a flawed program.”

CUPE Ontario, representing 280,000 public sector workers, has been among a growing chorus of unions, health experts, community organizations, and everyday Ontarians who have noted that the CRSB is inaccessible. Workers intending to access the benefit have complained of delays in payment, uncertainty around eligibility, the fact that they are not eligible if they miss less than 50 per cent of their work week, and that they can only apply after they’re sick.

“This has meant workers have remained stuck in the impossible place of knowing their regular pay cheque will fall short if they stay home from work when sick,” said Hahn. “We know far too many front-line, essential workers, including tens of thousands of CUPE Ontario members remain without paid sick days. This proposal will do nothing to stop countless workers from being forced to make untenable decisions and the Ford government’s proposal does nothing to change that.”

“The fact is that this is not paid sick days. It’s time to listen to the experts and legislate it now.”