A crowdfunding campaign for paid sick leave in Ontario is gaining steam — but should sick leave be a charitable cause?

The team behind the Ontario Sick Day Relief Project are raising money to help essential workers pay for sick days. But even they admit their initiative is far from a solution.

Why It Matters

Patients are dying in ICUs across Ontario because they — or their colleagues, friends, and families — cannot afford to take time off work if they are infected with COVID-19. Until a paid sick day policy is enacted, many workers will need financial help to isolate or seek treatment.

Lindsay Clarke, a registered nurse in Toronto, expected the Ontario government’s response to the province’s third wave of COVID-19 would include mandatory paid sick days. When Premier Doug Ford stepped in front of the cameras on April 16, they weren’t even on the agenda. 

Despite a year of advocates, experts, and even the province’s Science Table calling for paid sick days, Ford instead essentially gave Ontario police forces free reign to card anyone outside of their home. He did not announce widespread closures of high-risk sectors like manufacturing and warehousing that could have slowed the spread of COVID-19, and workers in these industries often cannot afford to stay home if they’re sick. Clarke believed she needed to act. “The fund started because we saw there was this emergent need to help essential workers stay home to help curb this third wave,” she say

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