Ontario offers three days of paid sick leave for COVID-19

Ontario offers three days of paid sick leave for COVID-19

The Ontario government says full-time and part-time workers in the province who need time off due to COVID-19 will be eligible to receive up to three paid sick days as part of a temporary provincial program that ends in September.

Eligible workers in Mississauga and Brampton could collect between $600 to $1,000 a week under a province-wide paid sick leave program announced by the Ontario government today.

Through the program, the employer would pay for the sick days and be reimbursed by the provincial government.

The program, which has been dubbed the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Program, will be administered through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and will end on September 25, the same date that the federal government's Canada Recovery and Sickness Benefit (CRSB) is set to expire.

Ontario has also asked the federal government to double the $500-a-week Canadian Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) to $1,000 with the province picking up the extra cost.

In an open letter to Premier Doug Ford earlier Wednesday, OPSEU President Warren "Smokey" Thomas called for a simple and seamless program to ensure workers who need to stay home are paid promptly.

At long last, after months of refusing the pleas of medical experts to mandate paid sick days and help stop the spread of COVID-19, Ontario's provincial government has unveiled legislation that will do just that - but not very well, in the opinions of critics. I'm not a federal-politics reporter, but it seems pretty clear from recent events that three days was the price federal finance minister Chrystia Freeland demanded in order for Ottawa to accede to Ontario's requested CRSB improvements.

Employers and their workers can call a dedicated COVID-19 Sick Days Information Centre hotline at 1-888-999-2248 or visit Ontario.ca/COVIDworkerbenefit to get more information and updates about the proposed Ontario COVID-19 paid leave days.

Constitutionally, provinces are responsible for employment laws like paid sick leave, however, Ontario and British Columbia had been calling for changes to the federal benefit.

The Ford government has been heavily criticized for failing to bring a provincial sick-leave program during the pandemic. Paid sick leave was never going to be a silver bullet, but this meaningfully pushes the dial in the right direction.

"This will help those workers who have to stay home and self-isolate if they are sick".

Unfortunately, the mere introduction of paid sick days isn't enough to make critics happy; it has to be rolled out in a way that is adequate, realistic and fair.

The federal program Ford is trying to supplement provides workers with $450 a week after tax.

Bethlenfalvy said Tuesday that Ontario would give the federal government funding to double its existing benefit if Ottawa would administer the topped-up payment to workers in the province. "And that the payments actually run through employers, and the worker doesn't have to apply", Dr. Peter Juni said in an interview with CP24 Wednesday evening.

"That's not going to stop the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces and it's not going to stop the deaths", she said.

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