NDP urges Ford to provide more paid sick days and supports to curtail monkeypox

Logan D Suza

QUEEN’S PARK — NDP 2SLGBTQ+ Issues critic Kristyn Wong-Tam (Toronto Centre) is calling on the Ford government to provide Ontarians with paid sick days and other supports to recover from monkeypox and prevent further spread of the illness.

Wong-Tam was joined at a press conference by Len Tooley, an HIV and public health advocate who recently recovered from monkeypox; Dr. Samantha Green, a family physician at the St. Michael’s Hospital Sumac Creek Health Centre in Regent Park and a member of the Decent Work & Health Network and Chris Draenos from Community-Based Research Centre, which promotes the health of gender diverse and sexually diverse people.

“This past weekend, the World Health Organization’s chief declared monkeypox a global health emergency,” Wong-Tam said. “Doug Ford’s paltry three, temporary paid sick days have never been enough to stop the spread of COVID-19 – and Ford has refused to make these days permanent. With the isolation period for monkeypox lasting up to several weeks, three sick days don’t come close to giving our community the protection we need to fend off this emerging infectious disease.”

Wong-Tam stressed the disproportionate impact monkeypox is having on the 2SLGBTQ+ community given that the latest outbreak is seeing the virus spread predominantly among gay and bisexual men.

“Monkeypox could not be happening at a worse time for my constituents,” said Wong-Tam. “Church and Wellesley Village was at the epicentre of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and saw immense damage to main street businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Bars, clubs, bath houses and restaurants are still struggling to stay afloat after years of COVID-19. The last thing local small businesses need is another pandemic. In refusing, again, to provide adequate and permanent paid sick days to Ontarians in the face of the growing public health emergency of monkeypox, Ford is failing to protect peoples’ health.”

The Official Opposition NDP has been fighting for 10 permanent paid sick days, plus an additional 14 days in the case of an infectious disease emergency like monkeypox.

Curtailing the spread of monkeypox is also necessary to preventing further strain on Ontario’s hospital system.

In addition to paid sick days, the NDP is calling on the government to reverse Bill 124 and address the labour shortage and punishing wait times in the health system, including strategies to actively recruit, retain and return health care workers; increasing wages, converting part-time and casual work into full-time jobs and addressing violence against health care workers.

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