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Labour Day rally in Halifax calls for 10 paid sick days for all workers

Rally held in downtown Halifax calls for paid sick days
WATCH: A Labour Day rally was held in downtown Halifax calling on the government to implement a 10 paid sick days for all workers, especially during a pandemic. Jesse Thomas has more.

A crowd gathered on Labour Day in Victoria Park calling on the provincial government to step up and deliver 10 paid sick days for all workers throughout the year.

Organizers of the rally say it’s vitally important for workers’ well-being to be given the option to take a paid sick day, especially during a pandemic.

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“We believe that everyone deserves 10 paid sick days,” said Hailie Tattrie an organizer with Fight for 15. “If you are sick, you are sick and so folks shouldn’t have to be deciding about paying bills or going into work sick. I think that’s especially relevant right now during a global pandemic.”

Last month the federal government announced the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit which provides workers with $500 per week, for a maximum of two weeks if a worker becomes sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19.

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“Although I think it’s a good start it needs to be permanent, it can’t be for just one year,” said Tattrie.

Organizers say the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit application process is cumbersome and doesn’t protect the worker against other illnesses outside of COVID-19.

“We think this is a long-term problem that requires a permanent solution and that’s an entitlement to all workers for 10 paid sick days and that’s the only way we are going to prevent workers from showing up sick,” said Mark Culligan, an organizer with Fight for 15.

Cape Breton Centre MLA and NDP labour critic Kendra Coombes says the party will be tabling a bill to have 10 days paid sick leave enshrined into the labour standards code.

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“Many people do not have paid sick leave and therefore are many times left with a decision of going to work to put food on the table for their families while sick or staying at home and losing a day’s wage,” said Coombes.

Read more: N.S. teachers’ union says schools ‘in chaos,’ asks government to delay reopening

Following the list of speakers, the group then took to Spring Garden Road and marched to Liberal MLA and Minister of Labour and Advanced Education Labi Kousoulis’s office and called for 10 paid sick days to be a permanent benefit to all workers.