September 3rd, 2020

Horwath calls for paid sick days for everyone – including parents – before school starts

Ford’s crowded classroom scheme depends on parents keeping unwell kids home

TORONTO — School is just around the corner, and Doug Ford has left many parents in a position where they may be forced to choose between keeping their kids home when they’re sick, or missing out on a day’s pay. Official Opposition NDP Leader Andrea Horwath is calling on the Ford government to make sure all working people can take paid sick days before students go back to class.

“If a child wakes up with a fever and a cough, but mom and dad don’t have any paid sick days to use, what are they expected to do?” said Horwath. “How can we ask parents to keep their little ones home if they don’t feel 100 per cent, when Ford is choosing not to give them the tools they need to stay home?

“Parents, teachers and education workers were already worried about Mr. Ford’s risky back-to-school scheme. Collapsed classes mean even bigger classes and even more crowded rooms. The government is planning to have 70 kids, shoulder-to-shoulder, crammed in for bus rides. If just one student with COVID-19 goes to school, the virus could spread like wildfire.”

Ontario workers were promised paid sick days months ago, but the federal and provincial governments have yet to deliver on that. In fact, Ford cut the measly two days that Ontario workers used to have.

Continuing the NDP’s fight for smaller, safer classes, Horwath held a press conference Thursday alongside a concerned parent, ETFO President Sam Hammond, and NDP MPP Jill Andrew (Toronto-St. Paul’s). The press conference took place outside of McMurrich Junior Public School, which needs 67-cents’ worth of repairs for every dollar it’s worth.

“If I were premier, I’d make sure every Ontarian — including every education worker, part-time worker and precariously employed person – can stay home when they have COVID-19 symptoms, or when they’ve been exposed to the virus,” said Horwath.

“I’d also be working around the clock to repair schools, and I’d spend to hire more teachers and education workers, and line up temporary classroom spaces — because smaller is safer.”

“Now more than ever, we need to ensure universal and accessible paid sick leave for everyone,” said Hammond. “Along with many parents, migrant workers and others, we have educators including occasional teachers and casual education workers who have no access to paid sick leave. They are also among the lowest paid educators in the public education system. We can’t expect them to go into schools without recourse to paid sick leave should they contract COVID-19.”


Beverley Eadie, Parent
“I am the parent of two children, aged 8 and 12, going into grades 3 and 7 this year. With less than a week and a half to go, there is still no plan in place that allows our children to social distance at school. Rather than listening to health experts, this government has chosen to send our kids to school in full, and often unventilated, classrooms. We know this is unsafe, and risks the health of our children, their teachers, and our families. This short-sighted decision will cost all of Ontario in the long run.”