TORONTO — The Ontario government announced last week that 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.
The bill was tabled by Labour Minister Monte McNaughton — who called it “the most comprehensive plan in the entire country” — Thursday morning and was unanimously approved.
The Worker Income Protection Benefit program requires employers to provide workers with up to three days of paid sick leave for reasons related to COVID-19, including being sick, showing symptoms, going for a COVID-19 test, or getting vaccinated. Under the program, which will be administered by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, employers will be required to pay employees up to $200 per day for up to three days per worker. The province will then reimburse employers for the paid sick days. Workers will not be required to show a sick note. The program will be retroactive to April 19 and will be in effect until September 25, 2021.
“We appreciate that there is no additional new cost to businesses. The hospitality industry has been struggling for over a year and many are just hanging on,” says Tony Elenis, president & CEO of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel & Motel Association. “We urge the government to expedite the re-imbursement of sick-day pay to employers due to cash-flow issues experienced as a result of depressed revenues.”
The program also includes doubling the payments for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) to receive up to $1,000 per week for four weeks if missing work due to COVID-19 but this is contingent on the federal government approving the collaboration.
Although they supported the legislation, Ontario’s opposition parties also called on the government to increase the support to a minimum of 10 days, citing the advice of public-health experts. Liberal Leader Steven Del Duca says the ask is based on how long it takes for an individual “to get tested, to get in the clear, to potentially isolate.”