Paid sick leave debated in Sask. Legislature

A member of the Saskatchewan NDP brought the conservation of paid sick leave back to the house in the Saskatchewan Legislature on Tuesday.

Jennifer Bowes, the NDP’s associate labour critic, suggested that the provincial government does not have the decency to consider paid sick leave in Saskatchewan during a pandemic.

“We’ve seen an increase in hospitalizations of workers, outbreaks in workplaces, and the most efficient way to get the situation under control is to bring in paid sick leave,” said Bowes following question period on Tuesday.

During question period, Minister of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety Don Morgan said the government has supported workers in multiple ways during the pandemic, including paid vaccination time which provides workers with paid time off in order to receive a COVID-19 vaccination.

Bowes was not satisfied with the answer, adding it’s immoral for the government to make workers choose between their lives and livelihoods.

“I’m sorry but that’s not going to stop people from getting sick in the workplace soon enough,” Bowes said. “(People) are getting infected and are filling up our ICUs. It’s just not working.”

She mentioned that she has been speaking with many of her frontline worker contacts in the province who have voiced their concerns about the lack of paid sick leave.

The Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety shared in a statement on Tuesday that they have taken steps to support workers through the pandemic.

“(We’ve) made it easier for employees to take time off from work when they are sick or need to care for others due to COVID and to also access the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit or the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit programs,” reads the response. “Amendments made included removing the requirement of a sick note as well as the necessity for an employee to have worked 13 consecutive weeks for an employer before being eligible for job protected sick leave and introducing a new public health emergency leave.”

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