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Business owners join together to demand province reinstates paid sick leave

Last Updated Feb 10, 2021 at 2:16 pm EDT

Storefronts in Ottawa's Glebe neighbourhood are reflected in a sign indicating the temporary closure of a business to prevent the spread of COVID-19, on Tuesday, March 24, 2020. The pandemic has meant a slew of commercial renters — from the country's smallest businesses to the behemoths — have had to have a tough conversation with their landlord about how they are unable to cover rent. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

The calls for the province to reinstate paid sick leave are growing louder as a group of business owners joined together to demand the Ford government reinstate them.

The business owners want to see the paid sick leave brought in immediately as they continue to struggle amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are also expected to urge the government to pass Bill 239, the “Stay Home if You Are Sick Act.”

The NDP private members bill that has passed first reading would guarantee 10 personal emergency leave days a year for every worker, seven of which are paid days.

It would also allow for 14 more days of paid leave during any infectious disease emergency and provide financial support for small businesses.

The business owners say legislating paid sick leave will help level the playing field for small and mid-sized businesses struggling to compete with bigger corporations.

Last week, Toronto City Council voted in favour of calling on the province to immediately implement 10 days of paid sick leave for workers during the pandemic.

Councillor and Board of Health Chair Joe Cressy says giving those workers paid sick days is desperately needed.

“Those heroes stocking our shelves, delivering our goods, processing our food, those heroes who are keeping our seniors safe, they’re the ones at risk. They’re the ones who are tragically continuing to get sick and in turn transmitting the virus,” said Cressy.

But the premier has said there is no need for it, because the federal government already has the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. However, critics say the program is flawed and does not provide the same benefit.