Having been through the H1N1 pandemic of 2009 that many Canadians seem to either not remember, or maybe were too young to have paid attention, Covid-19 hasn’t particularly freaked me out….yet.
People tend to forget that even the average seasonal flu is already a deadly illness for seniors, for those with chronic health conditions and for those who are immune compromised. Government stats show that hundreds die in Canada every year already from flu or flu related complications.
This is why we have flu vaccines- it might not totally prevent flu but it can help reduce the impact of it, if you do catch it. And it can help slow the spread of flu among vulnerable communities , something many also tend to forget about..
But the one thing not being considered by politicians – who enjoy good salaries and benefits – in the effort to get people to stay home when and if they get sick, is that most people can’t afford to go two days without pay, let alone two weeks.
Not all employers offer paid leave or flex days, and not all workers have vacation time to fall back on. Most people live paycheque to paycheque. Many are behind a month already on a bill or two…if not all of them.
It’s not remotely realistic to think that people will or can self isolate at all, if you have to feed your family and pay rent or mortgage. Why do politicians forget this? Landlords are already eager to evict so they can raise rents. People can’t risk housing and food.
If the government truly wants to help halt the spread of Covid -19 now that it is here, they need to look to how Japan is quickly acting:
Japan’s government says it will pay up to about 80 dollars per person per day to businesses as income compensation for parents taking leave from work in response to temporary school closures that began nationwide.
The health and labor ministry on Monday revealed the details of a new subsidy system as the government strives to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The ministry will pay the subsidy of up to 8,330 yen per person per day to businesses if their employees take paid leave to take care of their children due to school closures.
It’ll also offer stipend in cases where employees care for people suspected of having been infected with the virus.
The measure will cover regular and non-regular workers who take leave between February 27 and March 31.
The ministry plans to determine and announce soon how the system will be implemented
Here in Canada, a similar solution that is more directly worker oriented, is to make anyone ordered/asked to self isolate or anyone who has to take care of someone who must self isolate, immediately eligible for sickness EI benefits by waiving the waiting period and processing payments immediately instead of taking 28 days.
Processing applications immediately is key, as most EI applications sit for the full 28 days before payment is let go, then backdated. We can’t wait that long if we want to keep sick or exposed people in isolation.
In the event a widespread outbreak occurs here, continue the payments for the period deemed to assist containment as they have in Japan.
As well, people are already posting letters and signs from employers stating if they miss too many shifts they will either lose fulltime hours or be fired. The province should ensure that non union workers know their rights surrounding this kind of situation, in their daily press conferences, and legislate policy to prevent such dismissals.
Which brings me to the topic of legislated sick pay. Why isn’t this a thing for average workers who need the most protection because their wages are lower and they can least afford time off? Let’s get on this!
Problem solved. ( how long will it take the feds to act? Clocks ticking)
And for those who aren’t caring “because it’s the elderly and sick who it targets”, stop being selfish.
Viruses like this can kill those undergoing cancer treatments, those with chronic conditions like asthma and copd, and any immune compromised patient. That might include one of your family members or friends. Think about that.