April 28, 2021
Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—Manitoba NDP Leader Wab Kinew, NDP Labour Critic Tom Lindsey and representatives from Manitoba’s labour organizations held a virtual press conference on the National Day of Mourning to call on the PC government to work with employers to provide comprehensive and immediate paid sick leave benefits and paid leave for vaccine appointments.
“Working Manitobans want to protect their families and do their part to curb the spread of COVID-19,” said Kinew. “But in order to do the right thing, whether that’s isolating at home or getting a vaccine, working families have to take a hit on their paycheque and that’s just not right. The PC government could help working families, and lessen the impact of the third wave, today by taking these two simple steps.”
With the arrival of variants of concern and the third wave in Manitoba, families are facing longer and more frequent periods of mandatory isolation. The Canada Recovery Sickness benefit is not a full wage replacement for most workers in Manitoba and can take weeks to arrive. Workers must reapply every week for a total of four weeks and employers must sign off on worker’s applications. The Federal government recently rejected Ontario’s request to top up the Federal benefit and called on the provinces to develop their own additional sick leave directly through employers.
Public health experts point out that providing paid vaccine leave is a crucial tool in overcoming vaccine hesitancy. Alberta, Saskatchewan, B.C. and Ontario have all legislated 3 hours of vaccine leave for workers.
“This government’s attacks on working families have made workplaces less safe,” said NDP critic for Labour Tom Lindsey. “We know that workplaces have high rates of transmission and yet the government has not stepped up to protect workers. It’s time for the PCs to give working families the respect they deserve and ensure no one in Manitoban has to sacrifice their wages to get a vaccine or isolate at home.”
National Day of Mourning is observed every year on April 28. It commemorates workers who have been killed, injured or suffered illness as a result of work-related incidents.