The Kingston Frontenac Lennox & Addington (KFL&A) Board of Health will be sending a letter to the provincial government urging them to guarantee paid sick days for all Ontario workers. The motion passed at their monthly Board meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 28, 2021.
The motion calls on the provincial government to amend the Employment Standards Act to require employers in Ontario to provide no less than five paid sick days annually to workers after three months of employment, and no less than 10 paid sick days annually when an infectious disease emergency has been declared. They’ve also stipulated that doctors notes should not be required to access the sick days.
“That’s something that came up really early in the pandemic, what a waste of everybody’s time that was,” noted City Councillor Mary Rita Holland, who sits on the KFL&A Board of Health.
“It does seem as though we’ve evolved to the point where we recognize that it’s just such a terrible use of physician’s time, and also has the potential for exposure. Some people have to pay for a sick note, that’s a huge equity issue there,” she added.
The Board of health will also urge the provincial government to provide the necessary funding, fiscal relief and other support necessary to employers to provide this sick leave.
Finally, the KFL&A Board is endorsing, in principle, Bill 239, “The Stay at Home If You’re Sick” bill.
“Doctors, and health professionals all over the province have been discussing this issue and so I think it should not be a political issue,” Councillor Holland added.
The Board also discussed writing a letter to the Province about amending the Reopen Ontario Act to require so-called “big box stores” to sell their essential items at the cash, and close off the non-essential areas of their stores.
Some small business owners have raised concerns about the double standard for retailers, with stores that carry groceries able to operate near-normal, at a reduced capacity. Meanwhile, non-essential retailers can only do curbside pickup.
“We’re looking at fairness and equity between big box stores and smaller family and local businesses,” said Dr. Kieran Moore, the KFL&A Medical Officer of Health, on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2021. “We’ve heard from them that there’s this perception that it’s not fair, that it’s not equal.”
Dr. Moore said the Board has sought input from local municipal and business leaders, as well we’re speaking to Eastern Ontario Health Board, who have written a letter discussing the issue as well.
“We can review the opinions of our local businesses, and if necessary, if we do find that it is unfair and inadvertently putting them at disadvantage, then we will write a letter to support a change in the Reopening of Ontario Act,” he said.
Dr. Moore also included in his monthly report that he had been personally invited by Premier Doug Ford to sit as a member of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Taskforce under (Ret.) General Hillier. They meet two to four times weekly.
The Board also heard presentations from Dr. Melissa Wan and Dr. Lindsay Bowthorpe regarding regional COVID-19 modelling and trends, as well as Ontario’s immunization strategy.