Opposition pushes for paid sick leave to curb COVID-19 spread in workplaces

EDMONTON — The Official Opposition is asking the province to protect workers by ensuring they have sick leave it they, or a family member, test positive for COVID-19.

Rachel Notley, leader of the Official Opposition, said in a press conference Monday that paid sick leave would help curb the spread of COVID-19, shorten the pandemic, and ensure an economic recovery could happen sooner.

The party proposes that employers would continue to pay workers for up to 10 days of leave for themselves or a dependent and that the province would reimburse the employer.

The plan would replace, and be partially funded by the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, the Notley said. For her, the federal program does not offer enough to support someone or a dependent and that processing times for applications mean there are delays in receiving funding.

“Our proposal means everyone who should stay home, can stay home,” she added. “And they can stay home without any loss or interruption of their income.”

“Too many Albertans who should be isolating are forced to show up to work in order to provide for themselves and for their families. To be blunt, that puts more people into hospital.”

Two weeks of average Alberta wages translates to over $2,500, which pales in comparison to the cost of a person being hospitalized or requiring ICU treatment, Notley added.

Notley shared that Ontario will likely table similar legislation later this week.

In response, the UCP point to free two week stays in isolation hotels and that a provincial benefit would duplicate the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.

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