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North Island-Powell River MP pleased with sick leave initiative

Federal government discussing the matter with provinces
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney
North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney. Contributed photo

North Island-Powell River MP Rachel Blaney is pleased with an announcement that the federal government is looking at the matter of paid sick leave for Canadians.

Prime minister Justin Trudeau said on May 25 that the federal government “will continue discussions with the provinces without delay” to secure paid sick leave for Canadians.

Ottawa will be looking to ensure workers can land 10 paid sick days a year, said Trudeau during his daily media briefing outside his home in Ottawa.

Blaney said the NDP has been working hard to see that all workers across Canada have the ability to access 10 paid days of sick leave.

“One of the things we know is many workers across this country don’t have access to that and they lose their jobs because they are ill and can’t go to work, or have to take a cut in pay,” said Blaney. “Especially during the time of COVID-19, this has become something that has come to the forefront.”

Blaney said the prime minister has spoken, indicating the government is willing to work with the NDP on this.

“Basically, just to make it clear, the first step is that the federal government steps in now,” said Blaney. “We want to see the federal government work with all workers across Canada to make sure that during this time, people have the ability to have that paid sick leave.

“The second step in the process would be to work with the provinces and territories to figure out how it would be implemented. It’s feeling like a pretty significant win for us. We really fought hard because we know workers across Canada have really expressed this concern.”

Blaney said it’s important, if people feel sick, that they stay at home and look after themselves and not potentially spread COVID-19. She said the best way to do that is to make it safe for people to do that.

“We don’t want people to choose between their health and their ability to pay the bills,” said Blaney. “We’re proud of the successes we’ve had working with the government and other parties to move certain issues forward.”

Blaney said the NDP was also instrumental in making sure the Canada Emergency Response Benefit applies to workers who make up to $1,000 a month.

Blaney added that on Mary 25, the House of Commons was sitting, with reduced numbers, with up to 50 parliamentarians representing the different parties.

“It’s been a busy weekend of negotiating and having discussions about what would be happening in parliament,” said Blaney. “Basically, at the end of the day, the house leaders agreed that the house would sit today. What the Liberals have put forward was largely influenced by negotiations that we have had with them, to sit until the end of June with four days a week, with a hybrid sitting of the committee of the whole for the COVID-19 committee.

“We’ve also made sure there are four days in the summer where the house will meet again in a committee of the whole to discuss issues that are arising. We felt the summer is usually the time that members of parliament are in the riding, working with their constituents. We are, of course, going to do that but we wanted to make sure the government was accountable during this time of so much uncertainty.”