Enhanced worker protections needed now: NDP



For immediate release

April 22, 2020

Enhanced worker protections needed now: NDP

“COVID-19 has shone a bright spotlight on the need for enhanced worker protections, as well as gaps in our labour legislation,” said NDP Leader Alison Coffin. “Too many of our citizens have been left behind, or have waited too long without income during the pandemic.”

The provincial NDP Leader says better supports and protections for workers are needed now as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Newfoundland and Labrador. Coffin is calling for legislation to amend the Labour Standards Act and the Workplace Health and Safety Act and Regulations in areas including guaranteed paid sick leave and paid emergency leave days for all workers, elimination of doctor’s notes, better overtime pay, and workers’ compensation coverage for all workers who become sick because of COVID-19.

“It was a great first step for government to eliminate the need for health workers with symptoms of respiratory illness to provide doctors’ notes, but these should be eliminated for all workers,” said Coffin. “In addition, more needs to be done to protect workers’ health and safety.”

Coffin says it is extremely important that all workers have access to paid sick leave and paid emergency leave, to ensure workers can stay home when they are sick or have to look after family, without having to decide between working sick or feeding their families.

The NDP wants seven paid sick days and 14 days paid emergency leave guaranteed for every worker.

Further, Coffin would like to see a requirement for overtime pay to be 1.5 times a worker’s hourly wage, and not the current 1.5 times the minimum wage.

Coffin is calling on government for presumptive workers’ compensation coverage for all workers who contract COVID-19 directly, or indirectly because of their work.

“Employees are being exposed to risk every day as they continue to work in health care, in supermarkets, in emergency response services, in delivery services, in transit, in our drug stores, and in so many more places,” said Coffin.

“Because of this pandemic, we now realize that ‘front-line worker’ includes many low-paid and precarious workers – they are the most vulnerable and the least protected,” said Coffin.

“We have to do everything we can to ensure we’re never in this situation again. We have to get our legislation in order. Our citizens deserve no less.”

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For further information, contact Zaren Healey White, Director of Communications, NDP Caucus at 729-2137 (o), 693-9172 (c), or zarenhealeywhite@gov.nl.ca.

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