Catherine Fife MPP, Waterloo

Government of Ontario

NDP MPPs call for presumptive WSIB coverage and paid sick days for all frontline health care workers

Published on January 20, 2021

KITCHENER-WATERLOO – NDP MPPs Catherine Fife (Waterloo) and Laura Mae Lindo (Kitchener Centre) say the Ford government must provide paid sick days and presumptive WSIB coverage for frontline workers during the pandemic, after the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) revealed that paramedics in Waterloo Region are being denied WSIB claims despite being exposed to COVID-19 while on the job.
“Paramedics are risking their own health to save lives and care for patients. They are working on the front line in our region, and the least we can do is to guarantee they’ll have paid sick days and be covered by WSIB if they are exposed to the virus.”
“Our paramedics, and every health care worker in this province, should have presumptive coverage and should never be forced to prove they contracted COVID-19 on the job.”
Region of Waterloo Paramedic Services is challenging WSIB claims made by paramedics who have been exposed to patients with COVID-19, and is claiming that because they were wearing PPE they must have contracted the virus in the community. 
“It’s unacceptable to deny WSIB claims to workers who we know are doing everything possible to stay safe but are being exposed to COVID-19 through their life-saving work,” said Lindo. “The Ford government must take action to provide the presumptive coverage that the Official Opposition NDP has been calling for since the beginning of this pandemic. It is the responsibility of employers to protect workers from COVID-19, and when a worker does have to isolate they should not lose their income for doing the right thing.”
The NDP’s Workplace Health and Safety critic Wayne Gates introduced legislation, Bill 191, back in May that would retroactively ensure that frontline healthcare workers and workers in essential businesses will receive presumptive WSIB coverage during the pandemic. Presumptive coverage means that WSIB would be required to assume that the workplace was the source of frontline workers’ COVID-19 exposure — saving the workers from having to jump through hoops to try to prove how they were exposed.
Lindo says that without presumptive WSIB coverage, and without paid sick days that Doug Ford still refuses to provide to workers in the province, more health care workers will be forced into the impossible choice of going to work sick or losing a pay cheque, and we’ll see more infections in our region.
“Doug Ford has failed to support our frontline health workers, and without WSIB or paid sick days, he’s putting their lives, and our community, in danger. To control the spread of the virus, and to give our workers the protection they need, we need presumptive coverage and paid sick days right now before more lives are needlessly lost.”