Science Advisory Table makes it clear: paid sick leave is required to combat COVID-19

Table says restrictions on outdoor activity do more harm than good

Ontario’s COVID-19 Science Advisory Table issued a statement on Tuesday that runs contrary to what the Ford Government has been saying.

Paying essential workers to stay home when they are sick, exposed, or need time to get vaccinated,” reads the statement, under the heading What Will Work. “An emergency benefit that offers more money, is easily accessible, immediately paid and that, for the duration of the pandemic, is available to essential workers… will help limit spread.”

Premier Doug Ford has been pushed to introduce a paid sick leave program at the provincial level but has consistently stated doing so would only double up on an already available federal program. The Science Advisory Table says the federal program is not enough. “Compared to other models that appear to have limited spread, the federal program is cumbersome and does not provide enough financial support,” reads the Table’s statement.

The Science Advisory Table listed other ways forward in the fight against COVID-19, saying the province must limit things to essential workplaces only. The table says some indoor workplaces have to remain open, but the list of what stays open must be as short as possible and those limited workplaces that stay open must strictly enforce COVID-19 safety measures.

The Table also states accelerating the vaccination of essential workers and those living in hot spots is key in the continued fight, as is limiting the mobility of the population.

The Table’s statement went on to indicate what won’t work in the fight against COVID-19, and that includes policies that harm or neglect racialized, marginalized and other vulnerable populations. “As noted in repeated studies from around the world, inconsistent policies with no clear link to scientific evidence are ineffective in fighting COVID-19.”

Policies that discourage safe outdoor activity will not control COVID-19 either, according to the table, and will disproportionately harm children and those who do not have their own access to greenspace.