'We're excluded': Taxi drivers exempt from sick pay

A group of local taxi drivers feel they’re caught in the middle when it comes to sick pay.

“The Government of Ontario left us behind even though they’re the ones that classified us as essential workers,” says Moe Abouzeeni, a taxi driver of six years and currently employed at Vets Cab.

Under the Ford governments COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit, employers must pay workers up to $200 per day for up to three days.

The new process operates through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.

“Us as taxi drivers, we’re excluded from it,” says Abouzeeni.

In the taxi industry, drivers are hired on individual contracts and have the option to pay for WSIB or not, according to Abouzeeni.

“To go and do WSIB and start the whole thing for yourself… it’s very costly.”

Abouzeeni says over 300 cab drivers with Unifor Local 195 do not have WSIB.

“We don’t have any of that,” he adds. “So I don’t know what they meant by every worker in Ontario.”

Officials from the Ministry of Labour tell CTV News. “The three days of paid leave are only available to employees who are covered in the Employment Standards Act.” They add “Self-employed individuals may be eligible to apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit if they have missed at least half of their scheduled work week.”

“Our drivers are there,” says Abouzeeni in response. “They’re front line workers just like any health care worker in this province.”

Abouzeeni believes working directly with members of the public daily puts them at risk to COVID-19.

“We drive those that are infected with COVID-19 from hospitals to their homes, from homes to the hospital,” he goes on to say.

He hopes the City of Windsor will step in to support drivers during the pandemic.