Federal sick leave: victory for colds

The NDP leader claims victory as Ottawa’s new sick leave will be offered not only to people with COVID-19, but also to those who are more vulnerable because they have colds or the flu. Jagmeet Singh believes that instead of covering a few thousand people, the leave will cover “millions”.

“What had been proposed would only have helped people sick specifically with COVID-19,” Singh said. What we have been able to do is extend that to people who are vulnerable. It’s going to include the flu, the common cold, and a lot of respiratory illnesses. So that will increase the number of people who will have access to the program. “

The federal government’s Bill C-2 created sick leave of up to two weeks funded not by the employer, but by Ottawa. To qualify, you either had to have COVID-19 or be in isolation for illness-related reasons. The NDP found that too restrictive. The change on Monday will ensure that people with “underlying conditions” or “other illnesses” that “make them more vulnerable to COVID” will also be able to apply.

This bill (now C-4) also concretizes the transition of CEP recipients to employment insurance and establishes a transition program for workers who would not qualify under normal conditions. The Liberal government wants to speed it up so that Canadians can get the new benefits quickly. So he tabled a motion to condense the usual parliamentary process into just a few hours. Conservatives and Bloc members are rebelling.

“This is anything but parliamentary democracy,” plague conservative Gérard Deltell. We have a duty, here, as elected officials, to hold the government to account. We were elected to ask the government what it does, how it does it and why it does it. It is not in four and a half hours of debate in the House that we can get to the bottom of things for $ 57 billion in spending. “

The $ 57 billion figure is not from the government: it originally calculated that his sick leave and transition benefits would cost $ 37 billion and has yet to provide a new estimate. It is the Conservatives who inflate this amount by a few billion to take into account the bonuses obtained by the NDP. And they add the provision allowing Ottawa to spend an additional $ 17 billion on the pandemic without seeking permission from Parliament again.

For his part, Bloc leader Yves-François Blanchet believes it is an “insult” to use a gag when Parliament has just returned from its one-month prorogation. He laments that the Liberals feel empowered to do so because of the support given by the NDP leader. “I don’t agree with people saying, ‘Shut up, we won’t listen to you, and we are going to impose the will of the executive because we made a boyfriend in the Parliament which will help us to do that ”, launched Mr. Blanchet.

Jagmeet Singh denies playing the Liberals’ game. “In general, I am against the idea of ​​reducing debate time because debate is important,” he said. […] In this specific case, it is different because we have an emergency. The PKU is over. So without this bill we would have millions of Canadians who would not have access to help. “

Ottawa signed a security recovery agreement with the provinces in July with a payment of $ 19 billion. This agreement also provided for the creation of sick leave. Behind the scenes, it is explained that the provinces’ responsibility will be to amend their respective labor codes to prohibit employers from sacking a worker who would use Ottawa’s new sick leave. But the holidays will be paid by Ottawa only.

With Marie Vastel

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