New report examines the need for paid sick leave in Nova Scotia

As the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare, paid sick leave is critical to supporting the health and well-being of workers and their families, and our communities.
July 28, 2021

Halifax, NS—The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives-Nova Scotia released the report No Nova Scotian Should Have to Work Sick, The Urgent Need for Universal and Permanent Paid Sick Leave Legislation, authored by a team of researchers at Acadia University. While there has been some movement on paid sick leave in different jurisdictions in Nova Scotia, as discussed in this report, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the lack of access to paid sick leave to the forefront of public policy debates.

“Our new report underlines that for it to be effective, paid sick leave must be universal, paid, adequate, permanent, accessible and employer-provided. We recommend that employers be legislated to provide 10 paid days per year to allow workers time to access preventative health services or to recover from common illnesses. During a pandemic, workers should have access to up to 14 days,” said Acadia University Assistant Professor, CCPA-NS Research Associate and coauthor, Rebecca Casey.

Casey adds: “Prior to the pandemic, only 46% of Nova Scotia workers had paid sick leave provided by their employers. We know that 69% of workers who earn $25,000 do not have access to paid sick leave. The data also shows that younger workers and those with high school education or less have the least access. We need to be very concerned about those who work in seasonal, term, casual or on-call jobs, because only 28% of them have access to paid sick leave.”

Rachel Brickner, Professor of Politics Acadia University, CCPA-NS Research Associate and coauthor said, “Only 11% of retail workers who answered our survey reported having access to at least 10 days per year and the average was 4.89 days per year. Among retail workers without paid sick leave, 41% reported going to work when sick. Of these, 88% of reported going to work when sick because they needed the money, which emphasizes the need for paid sick leave particularly for precariously employed workers and those in low-wage positions.”

“Paid sick day access during COVID-19 was possible because people fought for it. To take this protection away now is a massive step backwards. Nova Scotians simply deserve better. Of course, COVID-19 has shed light on this fact, but the provincial government ought to recognize the importance of paid sick leave moving forward too. Nobody should have to choose between wages or recovery,” said Lisa Cameron, Halifax- Workers Action Centre

“We cannot believe that the paid sick leave program for Nova Scotian workers is expiring on July 31st,” says Nova Scotia Federation of Labour President, Danny Cavanagh.

“This program should be permanent. Nova Scotia workers need permanent access to universal, fully paid, accessible paid sick leave. Because a worker is sick, they should not be forced to work choosing between making ends meet and protecting their health and that of others. We must have 10 paid sick days, legislated, employer-provided, for all workers without exceptions and without barriers,” says Cavanagh.


This report is available on the CCPA website at:

For more information or to arrange an interview with the authors or representatives from the respective partner organizations, contact Lauren Matheson, 902-579-9555 (cell) or [email protected]

The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice.