November 17th, 2020

Sick days needed to respond to COVID-19 cases in schools

HALIFAX -- As cases of COVID-19 affect two Nova Scotia schools, the need for guaranteed, paid sick days is clear. Dozens of students in two schools in Dartmouth are being instructed to get tested and isolate for 14 days.

“Students in these schools have been sent home with little notice and for many of them that will mean parents will have to be at home too,” said NDP Education and Early Childhood Development spokesperson Claudia Chender. “Child care does not happen organically. It happens when parents, frequently women, rearrange their lives to find a solution for their families. That solution is harder to find when people don’t have paid sick days and have to choose between a day's pay or staying home.”

A law passed by the NDP government means workers can’t lose their jobs if they’re unable to work due to a public health order or state of emergency, but for many, going without two weeks’ pay is an impossible choice to make.

“COVID-19 or not, workers need to be able to stay home when they’re sick or need to care for a family member. Paid sick days should be part of the Labour Standards Code and that need is made even clearer by the pandemic we are dealing with today,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “It’s actually a very simple matter. When you need to, you should be able to stay home from work and not have to worry about whether you'll still be able to afford groceries and pay the heating bill.”

The NDP tabled legislation last year that would have created paid sick days for all workers as part of the Labour Standards Code.