TORONTO – In response to the Ford government’s disastrous pandemic response and in advance of the Day of Mourning for injured and killed workers on April 28, the Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) demands Premier Ford commit to long overdue health and safety recommendations that could have prevented countless deaths.
As COVID-19 infections skyrocket in Ontario, words from Archie Campbell’s 2007 SARS Commission continue to haunt the province: “If we do not learn from SARS and we do not make the government fix the problems that remain…we will pay a terrible price in the next pandemic.”
Three major reports have been written calling for government action to keep workers safe. The recommendations in these reports could have prevented numerous worker deaths. The OFL has compiled status updates on these reports that call for action on infectious diseases like COVID-19, occupational cancers like those that ravaged the General Electric plant in Peterborough, and training standards called for after four migrant workers plunged to their death in a swing-stage collapse on Christmas Eve.
So far, Premier Ford has failed on all three.
“We are calling on Premier Ford to do his job, so workers don’t continue to die doing theirs,” said Patty Coates, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour. “These reports were written in the blood of Ontario workers. Ford’s inaction is an injustice to the tragedies that provoked these recommendations, and the devastation Ontarians are currently facing.”
Last week the OFL submitted an open letter calling on Premier Ford, Minister Elliott, and Minister McNaughton to protect Ontario workers from COVID-19. In addition to the open letter, the OFL is calling on the Ford government to commit to action on five demands, spanning all reports, to protect workers:
- Legislate permanent paid sick days for all workers;
- Legislate and enforce preventative training standards;
- Provide the highest quality and amount of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to all workers;
- Vaccinate equitably and strategically, starting with frontline workers and impacted communities, and
- Ensure all workers are covered by the workers’ compensation system.
“We would especially like to clarify for Premier Ford that, yes, permanent sick days are political. The personal is political. But the only person playing politics Premier Ford, is you – with workers’ lives. As an elected politician, it is up to you to protect people,” said Coates.
Every year on the Day of Mourning, the government and the compensation board issue statements and advertisements expressing sorrow and regret for injured, sick, and killed workers. Workers are tired of Ford’s empty expressions of sympathy.
In the lead-up to the Day of Mourning on April 28, and in recognition of those lost to COVID-19 due to Ford’s inaction and refusal to protect workers, the OFL and workers across the province will be ramping up the pressure to demand protections for workers.
It is time for action. It is time for prevention. It is time for Premier Ford to do his job, so workers do not die doing theirs.
The Ontario Federation of Labour represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow @OFLabour on Facebook and Twitter.
For more information, please contact:
Director of Communications
Ontario Federation of Labour
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