Manitoba calls on feds to finalize sick leave program

By | August 12, 2020

WINNIPEG — The province is calling on the federal government to finalize the details of the Pan-Canadian Sick Leave Program.

The program would provide funding for Canadians who are sick and need to stay home as many jobs don’t offer sick pay, and they can’t afford to lose their hourly income.

The province said this program would allow Manitobans to stay home when they are sick.

James Chambers, who is the co-owner of Chez Angela Bakery and Café in Brandon, said the pandemic had an immediate impact on his business.

“We lost a couple of streams of revenue right away. We lost our catering, we lost our dining room, and it had an impact on our staff,” said Chambers.

There has been a rise in COVID-19 cases in Brandon and Chambers said he takes the health of his employees and his community seriously.

“If someone is ill, if someone is exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, then we would immediately encourage them to stay home and get tested.”

Jonathan Alward with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) said this would be a good temporary measure for the federal government, so employees aren’t going to work when they’re sick.

“You want to make sure employees aren’t encouraged to go into work if they are sick and there’s a financial backstop to keep them home if they are feeling ill, so they don’t spread it any further,” said Alward.

He added it’s important we don’t put the cost of sick pay onto small business owners who are already struggling financially.

One employee at Chez Angela, Amy Lovas, who has worked at the bakery for more than a year, said the program would give her peace of mind, knowing she could stay home if she is ill without disruption to her finances.

“I’ve got tuition to pay in the fall, and yeah, I think that would definitely help a lot. Not just me, but I think everyone else could vouch for that as well,” said Lovas.

Chambers said he supports the program and hopes it will keep his staff and his community safe.

“When it’s the government holding their finger on the switch to turn our revenue on and off, we absolutely need support to keep going,” he said.

Earlier in the spring, the Manitoba government passed legislation to provide job protection for Manitobans who are self-isolating or caring for a family member due to COVID-19.

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