Sandy Casselman
Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

BERWICK – The majority of the township of North Stormont’s council voted against a resolution requesting the Ontario government require employers to provide no less than five paid sick days annually to workers.

The motion was raised during the township’s May 4 council meeting, following receipt of a letter from the City of Cambridge asking that council support their resolution. In addition to the minimum five paid sick days annually, the resolution also requested that the province “provide necessary funding, fiscal relief, and/or support to employers so that all workers in Ontario have access to no less than 10 paid sick days annually in the event of a declared infectious disease emergency, such as the COVID-19 virus, and ensure all Ontario workers have access to protected and paid emergency leave, so care can be provided to children, parents, and/or other family members who may become ill and that all workers may receive paid time off to enable them to receive the COVID-10 vaccine.”

While Coun. Steve Densham said he understood the request and the need for workers to have paid sick days, he felt that asking businesses who are already struggling to survive to pay for those sick days would be too much. He suggested that businesses that are doing well are probably already doing this or will do this.

“I think what we’re seeing through COVID-19 is a lot of businesses are struggling right now,” Densham said. “There are many businesses that are doing well, and I think that those doing well will do the right thing.”

With no other councillors offering to speak on the topic, Densham continued. He explained that his decision to vote against this motion is due to the way it is worded.

“Those employers who are struggling through COVID-19, this could break their back, and those we’re trying to give sick days to would be out of [work],” he said. “I’m okay with sick days. I just don’t think it should land on the backs of the small businesses. It’s the way it’s worded.”

Mayor Jim Wert said he thought the province had already addressed the issue. A vote was taken. Although she refused to comment, Coun. Roxane Villeneuve was the sole supporter of the resolution.