Sean MacDougall

It seems every five minutes in the 24-hour news cycle there is another breaking update.

For many of us, the information intake can be exhausting from how governments are responding to the COVID-19, how sports leagues and teams are handling the situation, the count of new cases for the day, is there anywhere seeing first reported cases and the list goes on.

One thing to keep in mind is common sense. Keep your hygiene top of mind as it always should be, consider delaying that spring vacation and stay at home if you feel ill.

That last part raises an interesting question; what about the workers who don’t have paid sick days?

The Employment Standards Act says an employer must provide three sick days at the employee’s request but those days are unpaid. Only after being employed for five years is your employer required to provide an employee with paid sick time and even then it is only one paid day every 12 months.

Take restaurant workers for example. A server’s wages rely heavily on tips they collect. How can those be reimbursed if a server takes sick time? Kitchen staff seldom get wages much better than minimum wage unless you’re a head chef or have some lengthy tenure.

Now what about the self-employed? Surely sick days can’t be a luxury afforded for contractors or entrepreneurs.

While we can take every precaution, sometimes we do have to take those days to rest up and simply focus on our own health.

A health crisis like COVID-19 is beginning to show paid sick time is something everyone should have access to. One should not have to choose between personal health and paying the bills.

The federal government announced that $1 billion is earmarked for battling this virus but one thing remains and that is a work atmosphere where paid sick time is a luxury when it should be a right.

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