Michael Mantha MPP, Algoma–Manitoulin

Government of Ontario

News from the Park - May 3, 2021

Published on May 3, 2021

The other day I had an opportunity to speak at length with a senior constituent about some concerns she needed assistance with.  At some point during our conversation, she mentioned that in her lifetime she has had not only several jobs but actual multiple careers.  A very talented and interesting lady. 

Like many people, I’ve had a good number of jobs of different descriptions over the years.  Everything from physical slugging, to sitting behind a desk, to standing in the Ontario Legislature bringing the voices of Northern Ontarians to Queen’s Park.  I can honestly say that I did not always enjoy the work that I did, but I can say that I did learn something from every job.  Some more than others. 

One thing that I observed that bothered me then, and still does, is co-workers who demonstrate reprehensible tactics to avoid doing certain jobs they find distasteful, even if it means piling hardship and extra work on the shoulders of their co-workers.  I recall as a young man a particular co-worker who I know CHOSE not to understand how to do something, even after being shown how to do the task over and over again for weeks.  As a result, the supervisor gave up and assigned the particular task to someone else, thus doubling their exposure to a difficult, strenuous job. The thing that really got me was that that guy who was shirking his duties could not have cared less.  It just wasn’t fair and that experience always stuck with me and burns my craw even today.

The interesting thing about this is that such behaviours are not limited to just labour intensive jobs like I had back then.  Such callous behaviour is unfortunately evident in virtually any workplace environment – including politics.  Case in point; paid sick days for Ontario workers. 

Among the first priorities when Doug Ford came to office, his government eliminated the paltry two paid sick days that the Liberals had legislated not too long before the 2018 election.  In truth, Premier Ford was always opposed any program that offers help to workers to stay home when they are sick.  He even went out of his way to speak against the federal program while refusing to bring in provincial paid sick days, and spent the spring attacking any notion of provincial paid sick days.

  • June 5, 2020: “I don't support it. We have legislation that protects jobs that people, if they, you know, again, if they don't feel safe, they don't have to go into work.”
  • February 16: “waste of taxpayer’s money”

It is extremely obvious that Doug Ford does not care about the people of Ontario.  He has been told by countless officials, public health care experts, the Ontario Medical Association, Ontario Hospital Association, many municipal leaders including, Ontario Federation of Labour, the science advisory table, even Dr. Williams, the provinces own Chief Medical Officer that Ontario needs to immediately legislate paid sick leave for Ontario workers. 

Essential workers are disproportionately represented by marginalized groups, including Black, Indigenous and racialized people, largely from lower-income families.  It is a fact that essential workers cannot afford to stay home if it means being unable to pay rent, or put food on the table.  So they go to work sick or work with others who are sick resulting in widespread infection.  So what use is a province-wide lockdown when essential workers continue to infect one another because they can’t afford to stay home?  Scientific data shows that paid sick leave is a public health measure that will save lives and is an effective means to bring the pandemic under control.

Ontarians watched Doug Ford offer what at first glance sounded and looked like an apology for letting the people down.  But in the end, no one knows even now exactly what he apologized for.  As well, it is important to note that a real apology includes a statement of what one did wrong, a promise to do better and, most importantly, if sincere, actions that demonstrate positive change. 

What did Ontarians get from Ford in the end?  They got an “I’m sorry” and a promise to do better.  He promised his government would legislate the best sick pay plan in all of North America.  As for following through with actions which demonstrate a positive change in direction, what did Ford do to help working Ontarians?  He tried to negotiate a deal with the federal government to contribute to the same federal sick pay program which by no means actually offers any meaningful help to Ontarians. 

Then, days ago, the Ford government passed a bill that only offers people a pathetically inadequate three paid sick days.  It is not good enough — especially not during a global pandemic that makes people sick for at least 14 days.

Doug Ford is just playing political games knowing that Ontarians are paying a devastatingly high price.  Clearly he doesn’t care about regular Ontarians.  All he cares about is looking after his own interests and those of his well connected, wealthy supporters.  He’s that guy who chooses not to understand just so he doesn’t have to do the work. 

Premier Ford blames young people for partying; he blames people coming across provincial borders; he blames the federal government for not getting the vaccine out and into the arms of the public.  He blames everybody except the right body.

No one, ever, should have to go to work sick because they can’t afford not to.  No one should catch the virus at work because their co-worker needs rent money.  No one should face going hungry because of exposure to illness. New Democrats are going to keep fighting for 14 paid sick days during a pandemic, plus regular permanent paid sick days. 

As always, please feel free to contact my office about these issues, or any other provincial matters.  You can reach my constituency office by email at [email protected] or by phone at 705-461-9710 or Toll free 1-800-831-1899.

Michael Mantha MPP/député