In our city’s history, immigrants have always played an important role. They build our economic prosperity, diversify our culture, contribute to our social vitality.

Jim Watson
Mayor of Ottawa
OLIP helps to unite and share scarce resources for greater impact by working together in the field of student education.

Walter Piovesan
Associate Director of Education, Ottawa Carleton District School Board
We are very pleased to have done the “Opportunity Cost of Not Investing in Interpretation” report – it is so important to have clarity on these challenges and…

Hindia Mohamoud, Director, OLIP
All the WOW events that I went to were great – WOW does give a sense of a community trying to improve its attraction and retention!

Caroline Andrew
Professor, University of Ottawa
I’m really impressed with the level of energy and commitment around the Health and Wellbeing table and look forward to continuing collaboration between OLIP and OPH.

Marcela Tapia
Ottawa Public Health
Canada has been shaped by people who came from all over the world to build this country. WOW offers a platform for us to celebrate this history and the future it will help…

Alex Munter, Chair of the OLIP Council and President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre
The target beneficiary of the work of OLIP is the whole community. In this short period we have planted together important seeds for Ottawa’s development.  

Dick Stewart
OLIP Council
My nomination is an indication that our hard work in building Canada is recognized. All we do is to serve the community in return for embracing us when we needed it.  

Mehdi Mahdavi
Ottawa Immigrant Entrepreneurship Awards Nominee
The OLIP Council is committed to leadership.  In only a few years, we have a common vision and priorities, and are up to the task of implementing the Ottawa Immigration Strategy.

Salimatou Diallo
OLIP Council Vice Chair, Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario
I was happy to see integration to Algonquin territory and indigenous culture related programming in 2014 WOW. Please continue to involve local Aboriginal organisations and…

Linda Manning
WOW 2014 participant, Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa

The Fight for Paid Sick Days at City Hall

March 25, 2021

By Councilor Shawn Menard

In fall 2020 I brought a motion to City Council that called on Mayor Watson to write a letter to the Ford government requesting that they establish seamless job-protected sick leave that would allow workers to access up to 10 days paid leave related to COVID-19.

Paid sick leave in Ontario just made sense: our municipality and our public health unit were already dealing with the consequences of the absence of such a policy, and there was plenty of evidence stemming from even before the pandemic that paid sick leave would not only benefit workers, but businesses, too.

Unfortunately, the Mayor and many members of Council opposed and defeated this motion, arguing that it was anti-business and outside of our jurisdiction as a Municipality. Parroting the Ford government, the federal government’s sick leave benefit was also raised as a reason for inaction at City Hall. The federal benefit, however, does not excuse provincial governments from their jurisdiction over workplaces, especially when the federal benefit is so inadequate.

Shawn Menard, City Councillor representing Capital Ward.

We simply believe—in contrast to the federal benefit—that workers should be able to miss work when they are sick, without it being contingent on the percentage of days missed in a particular week, without needing the illness to be confined to two weeks within a calendar year, without seeing a reduction in income for time missed due to illness, and without the uncertainty of an after-the-fact application.

The narrow-minded opposition at Council was disappointing, but our office was undeterred and resolved to bring something to the Ottawa Board of Health (of which I am a member) for consideration. Despite some minor opposition, our motion at the Board of Health last month passed. Ottawa’s Board of Health has now joined Toronto’s in requesting that the province require employers to provide no less than five paid sick days annually to workers, and that they provide the necessary support to employers to see this number increased to 10 paid sick days in the event of a declared infectious disease emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

The need is clearer than ever.

We analyzed the city’s open data on community outbreaks in the lead up to our Board of Health motion: We found that 75% of known community outbreaks in Ottawa were workplace outbreaks, and a plurality of them (38.3%) appeared to be associated with service sector workplaces (where employer-provided paid sick days are uncommon). Workplaces have continued to be the most significant source of community outbreaks in Ottawa, and if we want to mitigate this source of transmission, then the province needs to provide workers with the supports they need to stay home when they’re ill.

Thankfully, a growing chorus of voices are speaking out in favour of paid sick leave in Ontario, including public health professionals from across the province, several Ontario municipalities, opposition politicians at Queen’s Park, and working-class activists (especially those involved with the Fight for $15 & Fairness). Even the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has changed its tune on paid sick leave.

The momentum needs to continue to build, increasing pressure on this folksy government for the wealthy few. We’re proud to have contributed in our own small way. However, the fight for our city, and for a province that puts people first, is far from over. We need you to get involved, to demand more from politics and politicians.

Shawn Menard is a City Councillor representing Capital Ward and is also a member of the Ottawa Health Board.