There were over 1,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 transmission at Manitoba workplaces over the past year, according to a report by the Workers Compensation Board (WCB) of Manitoba.
The report, obtained by the Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL), shows the dire need for permanent, paid sick days across the province, MFL president Kevin Rebeck said Tuesday.
“Far too many workers face the impossible choice between putting food on the table and protecting public health by staying home when they are sick because they don’t have paid sick days on the job,” said Rebeck.
“With new and more contagious variants of COVID-19 spreading throughout Canada, there is an urgent need for government to put paid sick days in place for all workers.”
Rebeck said the reported number of 1,227 cases could actually be much higher, as it doesn’t include occupations that aren’t covered by the WCB, or eligible workers who were unaware they could submit a WCB claim.
“Paid sick days would help to protect public health by allowing sick workers to stay home without leaving them out of pocket,” he said.
The MFL is calling for 10 permanent paid sick days for all workers in Manitoba, plus an additional 10 days available during public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Manitoba’s Opposition NDP offered its support for the idea, with labour critic Tom Lindsey saying in a statement that Manitobans shouldn’t have to risk their health to pay the bills.
“If there were over 1,200 accepted claims, we know there were likely many more workers who contracted the virus at work,” said Lindsey.
“Now that the third wave is here it’s critical that the PC government keep workers and workplaces safe by ensuring every worker has paid sick leave. It’s good for families and good for the economy – there’s no time to waste.”
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