As most young adults can attest, being exhausted has become the norm — schedules are full, days are packed and energy is low.
And now it’s official. If you weren’t already feeling constantly under-rested, the government of Premiere Doug Ford has reduced the number of sick days Ontario workers are entitled to.
The previous total of 10 emergency days, two of which were paid, has now become a reduced total of eight. Workers in Ontario will now get three sick days, three personal days and two bereavement days. Oh, and all of those are unpaid.
When initially announcing plans to scrap Bill 148, Ford said, “we’re going to make sure we protect the front-line workers.” But with a move that puts a further strain on workers, it seems the government isn’t on our side at all.
“The government wants you to work sick. The government wants you to struggle with two or three precarious jobs…to spend less time with your family,” said NDP labour critic Jamie West
It seems that with this latest move, the government is creating circumstances promoting all three of those outcomes.
A reduction in sick days means people will be more likely to go into work when they are ill. Not only does this pose the potential problem of spreading illness among colleagues, but it also denies workers the chance to recover in order to return to work in good health.
Having less sick days doesn’t only put a strain on workers’ emotional and mental wellness, it also adds a financial burden. Workers are now losing two days’ worth of income — something which, under previous legislation, wouldn’t be a concern.
When people do stay home to recover, they’ll be missing out on income they would otherwise receive. This means people are likely to seek more hours of work once recovered, in order to compensate for the days they went unpaid. This not only contributes to elevated stress and added pressure, but also inevitably takes away from the time people can spend with family and loved ones.
Now, too much of anything is bad, and in this case, counter-productive. Of course there needs to be a limit on the number of sick days workers are entitled to. But why remove two paid sick days when people are already struggling to keep up with life’s unexpected difficulties? After all, isn’t the very purpose of emergency days meant to accommodate life’s unpredictability?
The bottom line is, if the Ontario government truly cares about its workers, they wouldn’t change labour laws to reduce the already minimal number of sick days.
And if they are choosing to follow through with this legislation regardless of its impact on workers, at the very least they should stop disguising it as an initiative to “protect the frontline workers.”