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July 15, 2020

CFNU appeals to the Canadian government to guarantee sick leave provisions to protect workers and businesses

The following is a letter to the Hon. Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister of Canada), the Hon. Patricia Hajdu (Minister of Health) and the Hon. Ahmed Hussen (Minister of Families, Children and Social Development), sent on July 13, 2020.


Dear Prime Minister Trudeau: / Dear Minister Hajdu: / Dear Minister Hussen:

Today, Canada’s nurses call on the federal government to make paid sick leave permanent for workers going forward.

The Canadian Federation of Nurses Unions (CFNU) and its close to 200,000 members ask your government to uphold the promise it made to Canadians in May, when the Prime Minister pledged to advance discussions with the provinces and territories to ensure that every worker in Canada who needs it is able to access ten days of paid sick leave a year – a measure essential to our country’s recovery phase in the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Prime Minister further added that a number of premiers already support the idea of implementing such permanent paid sick leave provisions.

These are necessary and long-overdue supports that will benefit most those with precarious work – where women, racialized workers and new immigrants are overrepresented and most vulnerable to seismic events like the current pandemic.

It is disheartening that it took a global public health crisis for many of us to become aware of the dangers of the current system, but we now have an important opportunity to get it right so that workers and businesses are not left stranded as our nation navigates through these uncertain times.

It is clear that if sick workers infect their colleagues, this reduces the overall productivity of businesses. Similarly, having to choose between taking a day at home from work due to illness and paying your bills makes little sense for both our society and our economy.

This is why making ten paid days of sick leave accessible to all workers is good public policy from both a social and economic perspective.

As Canada braces for the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 this fall, it is more essential than ever that workers – particularly those who may have been exposed to the coronavirus – be able to self-quarantine without the added anxiety of lost wages.

The CFNU urges the federal government to stay the course to help Canadians get back on their feet and give our economy the boost it needs to recover from this unprecedented crisis.

You can help people across this country most by rapidly delivering on your commitment to a permanent program of a ten days’ paid sick leave for everyone.

Sincerely yours,
Linda Silas, CFNU President

Debbie Forward, President, Registered Nurses’ Union Newfoundland & Labrador
Janet Hazelton, President, Nova Scotia Nurses’ Union
Paula Doucet, President, New Brunswick Nurses Union
Mona O’Shea, President, Prince Edward Island Nurses’ Union
Vicki McKenna, President, Ontario Nurses’ Association
Darlene Jackson, President, Manitoba Nurses Union
Tracy Zambory, President, Saskatchewan Union of Nurses
Heather Smith, President, United Nurses of Alberta