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GTHA Mayors and Chairs continue to call for sick pay actions; commit to working together on lockdown and vaccinations

HAMILTON, ON – Today, Mayors and Chairs from the 11 largest municipal governments across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area held their regular weekly meeting to discuss the ongoing response to the COVID-19 resurgence across the region.

The Mayors and Chairs discussed the Stay At Home order issued by the province last week and any issues that have arisen in municipalities during the first weekend.

The Mayors and Chairs discussed their concerns with the supply of vaccine and the implications it could have on the vaccine rollout. While, the vaccine supply is ultimately up to the federal government, the GTHA Mayors and Chairs are committed to doing everything to support the other levels of government to ensure a timely immunization rollout.

Recent international developments in the supply of vaccine to Canada will likely mean that a longer period of adherence to safe public health practices will be necessary before mass immunization is a reality. The Mayors and Chairs remind residents we still have some considerable distance to travel together to get back to 'normal.'

Once again, the Mayors and Chairs discussed the need for paid sick days for those isolating after a positive test result. There continues to be an urgent need for the federal or provincial government, one or both, to step up and make this guarantee for the duration of the pandemic. Failure to address this adequately is putting health at risk.

Among the concepts which were discussed was one which would see the province, for the duration of the pandemic, mandate employers to provide the sick pay for the required isolation period, to those testing positive subject to reimbursement from federal emergency funds.

During today’s meeting, the Mayors and Chairs continued to discuss the need for the federal and provincial governments to come forward with funding for municipalities through a Safe Restart Agreement 2.0. As cities begin to plan their 2021 budgets, the vaccine distribution and ongoing efforts to the pandemic, it is vital that they have funding commitments to help plan out their continued response.

“As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we urge the province to establish mandated sick pay as an emergency benefit measure that would require all employers provide sick pay for the required 14-day isolation period for employees who test positive for the virus. We need to eliminate the barriers that discourage people from staying home, such as financial factors, and mandated sick pay is an important way we can do that. Investing in the safety of our communities with immediate supports including paid sick days, safe isolation facilities, and direct financial help should remain a top priority during this pandemic for all orders of government.”

- Mayor Fred Eisenberger