Gig workers feel the heat as financial crises due to coronavirus factory lockdown

By: Surjit Singh Flora

As cases of COVID-19 increase, employers around the world are encouraging employees to isolate themselves.  However, in the age of the gig economy, extended leave is simply not an option for some workers.

 The spread of the new coronavirus is breaking new ground in the relationship between employers and their temporary workers and independent contractors.

Employers want to know what their rights and obligations are in a pandemic. At the same time, employees want to know what ongoing protections they can legally demand from their bosses.  Everyone needs to better understand what is allowed and required in the face of this unprecedented public health crisis.

The coronavirus could force Gurvinder Virdi, to make a difficult choice between wages and wealth. Virdi, as a lead hand in one of the printing company, and is the sole income earner in her family. Her husband can’t work after being sidelined by a car accident. 

“I live paycheck to paycheck and got two young kids,” says Virdi, 42. “We hardly even manage to pay our mortgage and bills on time.”

When we ask her, has her boss had a hint about layoffs? Yes, my boss many times discusses with the workers, if things get worse, they might have to close down, and I am ok with it because it’s something to do with the health and safety of us.

When did we ask her if the company supporting her? She replied, “the company might not help, but all we can do is to apply for EI Employment Insurance, but that’s the one thing I am fear and worried about because Employment Insurance is paid only 55 – 60%, it means if I am making $2,000 a month, I will only get $1100-1200 a month, as I mentioned above I live on paycheque to pay cheque and hardly even manage to pay my bills on time, with this reduced Employment Insurance payment how I will survive? It will make life more tuff what I am feared and nervous about everything.

Have you been laid off? No, I am not laid off yet, but if things got worse, yes, the company talking about it.

Ms. Virdi, could you Please tell us about your actual expenses’ figures. And How long can you survive if you don’t have a steady income? She said, to be honest, I need monthly least $5,000 to pay my all the bills and mortgage, as my husband is on disability, with kids Canada child benefit and his disability payments it’s hard to survive. Unless the government freezes one-month mortgages and hydro bills, which will be the most significant relief as its global crises, the government must take this step.

When we ask her about providing daycare for her family? She said as my husband is on disability, he’s mostly home, so I don’t need any daycare.

Trudeau’s aid package that includes funding for medical supplies, testing, and public education, waives the one-week waiting period to apply for EI employment insurance, and Service Canada’s work-share program will be modified for companies with employees working from home.

On 16 March 2020, All Canadians should stay at home as much as possible is what Trudeau said. “By staying at home, you can not only protect your health and the health of others, but also ensure that our health professionals and health systems can focus on helping those who need it,” he added. Talk to your loved ones on the phone, face time, when you go to the supermarket, ask your neighbours if they are fine and they need anything.

While Ontario Premier announced on Monday, March 16, 2020, that his government is taking all the necessary precautions to ensure loved ones in Ontario’s long-term care homes are safe and secure. Long-term care homes will continue to restrict non-essential visits and actively screen essential visitors, staff, students, volunteers, residents moving into a long-term care home, and residents returning to a long-term care home.

 Also, Ford said on Sunday “his government is protecting workers so they can focus on their own health, and the health of their families and communities, without fear of losing their jobs,”

Also, on March 17, 2020 the Government of Ontario announced that it is taking decisive action by making an order declaring an emergency. In doing so, Ontario is using every power possible to continue to protect the health and safety of all individuals and families.

“We are facing an unprecedented time in our history,” said Premier Ford. “This is a decision that was not made lightly. COVID-19 constitutes a danger of major proportions. We are taking this extraordinary measure because we must offer our full support and every power possible to help our health care sector fight the spread of COVID-19. The health and wellbeing of every Ontarian must be our number one priority.”

But the question is, how this all government funding supports the Temporary workers those work through the agencies, and one’s company lock down, they will be out of job, who will be paying their mortgage and hydro bills. Such as Ms. Virdi case, she’s worried, stressed about financial crises due to coronavirus and every day when boss gossip about its lock down.  

These works work all year along, now at this kind of crises, companies trying to distance from them with no package or any benefits, while they offer full benefits and full day payment to their full time workers

About the author

Asia Metro Editor

Surjit Singh Flora
editor@asiametro.ca

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