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Residents gather to demand the Ford government do more to support Peel Region

Last Updated May 1, 2021 at 11:39 pm EDT

A coalition of education workers, doctors, parents and community activists came together Saturday in Mississauga to demand the Ford government do more to help Peel Region.

As of Saturday, there were 95,043 total cases of COVID-19 in Peel Region with Brampton accounting for almost 60 per cent of those infections.

The group gathered outside the Peel Public Health building to voice their demands, which include higher priority access to vaccines and additional support for essential workers including 10 paid sick days.

“It seems to me that the provincial government, to be honest, lives in some type of parallel universe and they are completely unaware of what is happening on the front lines,” said palliative care physician Dr. Amit Arya, who addressed the crowd.

“I’ve seen essential workers dying and suffering from completely avoidable scenarios because of lack of paid sick days. I’ve talked to people, where they told me that they were afraid of not going into work because they could get fired, could lose their job or they were unable to pay their bills.”

On Wednesday, the Ford government unveiled its sick leave plan which only provides three days of paid support. The program, which will be delivered through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, will see employers pay employees – both full and part-time – up to $200 per day for three days.

Ontario has also offered to boost the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from $500 to $1,000, however, the federal government has not committed to this idea.

The program is retroactive to April 19 and will remain in effect until Sept. 25.

Unifor, Canada’s largest union, took to the skies to continue to push their demand for universal sick leave, flying a banner above the GTA that read “Paid Sick Days Now.”

The plane flew from Oshawa, over Toronto and on to Brampton with a “special tour in Etoicoke North” which happens to be the home of premier Doug Ford.

“For the past year, Unifor and our members have written letters, called, met with MPPS and tried everything in our power to make the case for permanent paid sick leave for all workers in the province,” said Naureen Rizvi, Unifor Ontario Regional Director. “As new variants rip through workplaces and communities, Doug Ford’s government stalled and then delivered a new benefit that is not adequate, and brings new gaps that may leave some workers even worse off.”