Quebec unions seek extra sick days for COVID-19 isolation

Top three unions join call for extra bank of 10 leave days for COVID-19 isolation time

Quebec unions seek extra sick days for COVID-19 isolation

Quebec’s leading unions have urged the provincial government to provide public employees with a bank of 10 additional sick leave days that they can use for COVID-19 isolation time.

The FTQ, CSN, and CSQ represent about 1.14 million workers. In a joint statement this week, they argue that existing sick leave entitlements are insufficient for many, especially those in health, education, and early childhood education, as well as those who cannot work remotely.

A period of isolation for COVID-19 can use up almost or all of employees' sick leave time, the unions said, suggesting that some workers are feeling pressured to return to work despite displaying Covid-19 symptoms in order to preserve sick days.

"This is exactly what the three organizations wish to avoid at all costs in order to curb the transmission of the disease," the unions said in their joint statement.

The number of hospitalizations in Quebec due to COVID-19 passed 1,700 on Wednesday, The Montreal Gazette reported. Health officials in the province are already calling on the public to wear masks in crowded public places and follow basic hygiene practices to slow the spread of the virus.

The unions said employees should be granted the means to isolate themselves without losing pay to prevent workplaces from becoming a hotbed of COVID-19.

"The last few weeks, and probably those to come, remind us that all is not over and that it is better to prevent. This is the message we are sending to the government with this request," the unions said.

The Federal government is set to roll out 10 days of paid sick leave for employees in federally-regulated industries starting December 1 to give more employees time to stay at home when they feel sick. The unions told the Quebec government to follow the lead of the federal government.

"Now is the time for Quebec to follow suit and offer it to the workers under its jurisdiction. Let's put the odds on our side to protect the population and strengthen our common fight against COVID-19," they said.

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