An open letter to the government of Ontario
Re: Paid Sick Days
The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
The Honourable Christine Elliott, Minister of Health
Mr. Faisal Hasan, MPP York South-Weston
During the pandemic FoodShare has seen a massive increase in demand for our Good Food Box delivery service — including delivering more than 1,800,000 lbs of free produce through Emergency Good Food Boxes to individuals and families experiencing food insecurity who otherwise could not afford to purchase a box. While many employers have had to reduce the size of their staff teams during this public health crisis, our team working in food distribution quickly added 65 new employees in a two week period to accommodate this jump in demand.
We could not do this essential work without our dedicated team of staff. And, since we care deeply about their health and safety, and the safety of their families and communities, in 2020 we introduced 10 paid sick days for all employees, regardless of employment status, and have provided an additional 10 paid sick days in 2021. We also continue to pay a $4/hour pandemic pay top-up for staff working outside of their home. We’ve made these commitments because we’ve felt that it was the right thing to do.
As you are aware, only 42% of workers in Canada currently have access to paid sick leave and that number drops to only 10% for low wage workers, many of whom have been deemed essential during this lockdown. The federal benefit is insufficient — it must be applied for and workers are paid out weeks after they have missed income. Provincially mandated paid sick days would apply directly to a worker’s paycheck, this will allow people who are sick to stay home and limit the spread of COVID-19.
If a non-profit organization like ours can make this work, surely for-profit corporations can and should do the same. When left to make the choice themselves, many employers are choosing profits over people, choosing shareholder payouts over the health and safety of their staff.
The decision to provide adequate paid sick days to employees cannot be left up to the discretion of the employer, especially during a public health crisis.
FoodShare is calling on you, our provincial government, to introduce legislated permanent paid sick days and to ensure additional paid sick days are provided as a pandemic response measure. This needs to include all employees — regardless of employment status, immigration status, or size of employer.
Paul M. Taylor, Executive Director Crystal Sinclair, Board Chair