The fight for paid sick leave is making strides in the US, but what about Canada?

A growing number of U.S. cities and states impose paid sick leave for a growing number of people and in fact last week's midterm elections added more to the list. But in Canada, many are discovering we have a patchwork quilt of sick day coverage that can leave vulnerable workers without cover. Today, we're comparing the two nations....
A growing number of U.S. cities and states impose paid sick leave for a growing number of people and in fact last week's midterm elections added more to the list. But in Canada, many are discovering we have a patchwork quilt of sick day coverage that can leave vulnerable workers without cover. Today, we're comparing the two nations.

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Three American states and 15 cities have passed laws in favour of paid sick leave. Frank Taillandier

Flu season is just around the corner...but many Canadians may not have the luxury of recuperating in bed. Thousands of Canadians do not have the benefit of paid sick days... they often face loss of wages and even their jobs if they fail to show up at work.

Paid sick leave is a contentious issue right now for many Canadians. The federal government is proposing cutting civil servants' sick days to five a year. Paid sick days are often a point of tension in union negotiations.


But there are also many Canadians who have no protection or coverage when they call in sick. Most people in part-time or minimum wage jobs feel they have little choice but to go to work even when they are not feeling well.

Jacob Insley, actor who supplements income working in a restaurant.

Jacob Insley was awarded his claim and yesterday he received a cheque from his previous employer.


It's not known exactly how many Canadians could find themselves in Jacob`s situation, but a Conference Board of Canada study last year found only a third of employees between the ages of 18 and 24 have any paid sick days; and fewer than half of Canadians young and old are covered by employer sick leave.

In the U.S., there's an active campaign to improve sick day benefits, and its gaining momentum. There, nearly 40% of private sector employees have no access to paid sick leave for themselves or to take care of a sick relative.

Last week, voters in the state of Massachusetts and the cities of Trenton and Montclair in New Jersey and Oakland, California voted for everyone to get the benefit of paid sick leave. So far, 3 U.S. states and 15 cities have agreed to similar legislation.

Ellen Bravo is the Executive Director of Family Values at Work. We reached her in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

To examine the different laws and realities in Canada surrounding sick leave, we were joined by Kendra Coulter, Associate Professor at the Centre for Labour Studies at Brock University. She is also the author of "Revolutionizing Retail: Workers, Political Action and Social Change". She was in our Toronto studio.


If this is an issue that affects you -- as an employer or an employee -- we'd really like to hear from you. Do you have a job without paid days off when you're sick, how do you manage? Can you relate to that pressure to go to work sick...maybe you feel that pressure even if you do get paid sick days?

Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Ore-mail us through our website. Find us on Facebook. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366..

This segment was produced by The Current's Ines Colabrese, Sujata Berry and Celia Grimbly.


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