Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to all the witnesses for coming to our committee today.
Mr. Kassam, you made a comment about the importance of CERB and you also touched on your preference, which is a universal direct payment. Like you, I support that system. I think that would have been the simplest way to provide support quickly to Canadians who need help.
That being said, the government came in with the CERB program. It is a much more complex program, one in which we continue to find people falling through the gaps. One example I highlighted at this committee and elsewhere is single parents, many of whom are women, who don't qualify to receive the CERB because their income is spousal maintenance and child maintenance. That is not deemed to be income under the definition of CERB. To this day nothing has been done, in spite of the government's acknowledgement of the issue. The minister for ESDC,Minister Qualtrough, came before us and voiced her concerns about this gap. We're still struggling with that for many of the single parents out there.
Likewise, we have a situation whereby people with disabilities and seniors also were not eligible for CERB. The government did come in with a one-time support for seniors. We're waiting for quick progress and hoping for an announcement with respect to support for people with disabilities.
With that as the backdrop, Mr. Kassam, as we're now also talking about re-entry into the workforce, one of the key issues that is emerging is the lack of sick leave for individuals. I know that constituents of mine had to quit their job prior to the height of the COVID-19 situation because they were expected to show up at work even though they were exhibiting flu-like symptoms. They were in such a conundrum, they didn't know what to do, and in the end they felt they had to resign their position.
Mr. Kassam, I wonder whether you can comment on the importance of sick leave for every worker across the country as we transition, hopefully, into the return to work.