NDP say Premier must stop forcing unpaid leave for sick health care workers

by Stephen Dafoe

Alberta’s NDP is calling on the UCP to follow through on a commitment to introduce “sustained sick pay.” The puch comes after the Official Opposition learned that some sick or isolating health care workers are being forced to take leave without pay.

While the federal sick pay program provides $450 in after tax dollars per week, it only covers two weeks’ leave.

“We can’t ask people to choose between paying their bills and obeying public health orders,” said NDP Leader Rachel Notley in a media release Tuesday. “The federal paid sick leave only lasts for 10 days and it does not apply to people working in hospitals who come into close contact with a patient positive for COVID-19.”

Notley went on to say the very least the province can do is make sure front line health care workers “can pay their rent and put food on the table.”

Alberta is one of three Canadian provinces that do  not provide a form of isolation wage support for physicians.

Mike Parker, the president of the Health Sciences Association of Alberta, believes the professionals he represents are being penalized for staying home when they’ve been exposed to COVID-19.

“We’re being told that when our members are being forced to stay home when they’ve been in close contact that they have to drain their sick banks, even when they’re not sick,” Parker said. “These health-care professionals are putting themselves at the very front of the fight against COVID-19 and we have an employer and government that is counting dollars and cents, rather than focusing on the health of Albertans.”

Parker went on to say the province has access to federal money to help health-care workers, but none seems to have reached health care workers.

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