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Majority of Ontarians support paid sick days for workers, diverting COVID-19 vaccines to hotspots: poll

Last Updated Apr 21, 2021 at 4:52 pm EDT

A person wears a mask to protect them from the COVID-19 virus while walking by information about the ongoing pandemic in Kingston, Ontario on Monday, April 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS IMAGES/Lars Hagberg

The majority of Ontarians are supportive of workers receiving at least five paid sick days and are willing to divert vaccines to COVID-19 hotspots, according to a new poll.

The survey released by Maru Public Opinion found 76 per cent of people polled approved of paid sick days, with 37 per cent saying they should be permanent and 39 per cent saying they should be brought in as an emergency COVID provision.

This comes as the Ontario government house leader said an announcement on a paid sick days “enhancement” would be coming in the “very near future.”

The poll also found the majority of Ontarians, 70 per cent, are concerned with contracting COVID-19, especially in Toronto with 78 per cent and the GTA at 75 per cent.

Those least concerned with contracting COVID reside in Southwestern Ontario (39 per cent) and Eastern Ontario (34 per cent).

Women were also far more concerned with catching COVID-19 at 78 per cent, versus men at 62 per cent.

Half of Ontarians, 51 per cent, are not confident they could be admitted to their community hospital right now for a few days of medical care.

As for vaccines, over 80 per cent of those polled said they would be willing to divert half of the COVID-19 vaccines normally delivered to their area to hotspots, even if it means waiting longer for a vaccination.

The poll surveyed 815 randomly selected Canadian adults, who are members of Maru Voice Canada online panel, and is considered accurate to within plus or minus 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

It was conducted between April 17-19 after Premier Doug Ford’s press conference Friday in which he announced stronger restrictions to outdoor activities and increased police powers before walking back on the measures on Saturday.

The Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table has recommended stronger measures to combat the surge in COIVD-19 cases and hospitalization include accelerating the vaccination of essential workers and offering them paid sick days.

The provincial government is currently using mobile and pop-up vaccination clinics to target specific hotspot postal codes in Toronto and Peel Region.

With files from The Canadian Press