Just as Ontario Premier Doug Ford was outlining the latest stay-at-home order from the Ontario government, CUPE Ontario (Canadian Union of Public Employees) said the announcement was a demonstration of Ontario's "deep political failure" during the pandemic.
In a hard-hitting news release CUPE said any stay-at-home order must include some sort of legislated effort at paid sick days.
"Ontarians are tired of the seesaw. Let's get off this cycle of opening, then closing, and finally do what's needed to beat COVID-19 once and for all," said Fred Hahn, president of CUPE Ontario. He said only when people can afford to stay at home will they make the effort to actually stay home.
Hahn said all experts agree that this third wave of the pandemic includes front line essential workers, many of whom are racialized employees, who must go to work to earn a living.
Premier Ford paused his afternoon news conference, just before taking questions from reporters, to say that anyone who said paid sick leave is the best answer is playing politics with people's lives and doing a disservice.
Ford said there is already a sick leave provision being provided by the federal government. Ford said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reiterated the statement in a news conference on Tuesday that a sick leave benefit is available for front-line workers.
"Folks, because of all the premiers and the federal government we negotiated $1.1 billion dollars of sick pay. There is still $750 million available," said Ford, who urged front-line workers that need sick benefits to go online to the federal government website which has several options on benefits that are available.
"So far 300,000 Ontarians have accessed the program already. So to all the opposition and to everyone that's preaching about the sick days and playing politics, rather than do that, why don't you try to help someone by telling them where they can go," said Ford.