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Trudeau to seek 10 days paid sick leave for all workers

Last Updated May 25, 2020 at 2:25 pm MDT

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference at Rideau Cottage amid the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa on Thursday, May 21, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

The prime minister is promising to continue pushing provinces to give workers 10 days of paid sick leave every year

PM's promise appears to meet key demand from New Democrat leader for NDP's support on House of Commons sittings

Many premiers already expressed interest in idea of paid sick leave program; first brought up by B.C.'s John Horgan

OTTAWA – The prime minister is vowing to push provinces to give workers 10 days of paid sick leave each year.

“Nobody should have to choose between taking a day off work due to illness or being able to pay their bills. Just like no body should have to choose between staying home with COVID-19 symptoms or being able to afford rent or groceries,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday.

“That’s why the government will continue discussions with provinces, without delay, on ensuring that as we enter the recovery phase of the pandemic, every worker in Canada who needs it has access to 10 days of paid sick leave a year.”

In addition to this, the government will also “consider other mechanisms for the longer term,” Trudeau said.

Trudeau added some of the premiers have expressed interest in a paid sick leave plan, and noted the idea was first brought up by B.C. Premier John Horgan weeks ago.

“Who pointed out, quite rightly, that when the fall comes and flu season starts up, we don’t want people who develop a sniffle to suddenly worry that, well, they really shouldn’t go into work, but they can’t afford to not go into work, and therefore the risk of contributing to a second wave significantly could be a real problem,” Trudeau said.

He admitted, however, this won’t be easy to implement, adding some provinces may need help.

“The mechanisms are challenging, and that’s why we have to work with the provinces,” Trudeau said.

The promise also appears to meet a key demand from New Democrat Leader Jagmeet Singh, in exchange for the NDP’s support for a motion to limit sittings and votes in the House of Commons through the summer.

Singh laid out the demands on Monday morning, shortly before a small number of members of Parliament returned to the House of Commons to begin debate over the future of parliamentary sittings for as long as several months.

The debate revolves around a Liberal proposal to waive “normal” House of Commons sittings in favour of expanding the special COVID-19 committee that has acted as a sort of stand-in for the past month.

Because they hold only a minority of seats, the Liberals need the support of at least one of the main opposition parties to pass this motion.

The Conservatives are expected to oppose the motion as they push for an end to the COVID-19 committee and the resumption of Commons sittings, albeit with no more than 50 MPs in the chamber at any time.