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Internal Workers Compensation Board report confirms over 1,200 cases of workplace transmission of COVID-19

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

MFL News Health & Safety WCB

An internal report by the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba (WCB) reveals that there were over 1,200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 transmissions at Manitoba workplaces over the past year, Manitoba Federation of Labour (MFL) President Kevin Rebeck announced today. The report, obtained through a freedom of information request, shows the desperate need for permanent paid sick days in Manitoba, added Rebeck. 

“Far too many workers face the impossible choice between putting food on the table and protecting public health by staying home when they are sick because they don’t have paid sick days on the job,” said Rebeck. “With new and more contagious variants of COVID-19 spreading throughout Canada, there is an urgent need for government to put paid sick days in place for all workers.”

The internal report shows that between March 1, 2020 and February 28, 2021, the WCB accepted 1,227 COVID-19 claims. This means that there have been at least 1,227 cases of COVID-19 transmission at workplaces in Manitoba. Rebeck noted that these numbers would not include any eligible workers who were unaware that they could submit a WCB claim and would not include occupations that are not covered by the WCB, such as teachers. 

“Paid sick days would help to protect public health by allowing sick workers to stay home without leaving them out of pocket,” said Rebeck. “The need to protect public health and paycheques, during this pandemic and beyond, is simply too great for government to ignore.”

Rebeck noted that the federal government’s Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit has been a small step forward to help workers impacted by COVID-19, but it falls far short of what is needed. The benefit is temporary by design and interrupts workers’ income, requiring them to apply and then wait for the benefit to arrive. The benefit only replaces a fraction of lost pay for many workers. Rebeck urged the provincial government to move quickly on ensuring permanent paid sick days for all workers in Manitoba.

The MFL is calling for the establishment of 10 permanent paid sick days for all Manitoba workers, as well as an additional 10 days to be made available to workers in times of public health emergencies. Only 42 per cent of working Canadians who are older than 18 years report having access to paid sick days at work, according to the 2020 Annual Report of the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. 

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