Ontario to provide three paid sick days for workers

Alonzo Simpson
April 29, 2021

On Wednesday, the provincial government announced paid sick days for COVID-19.

McNaughton says the province will reimburse employers up to $200 a day for what they pay out through the program. It's hard to know what to say when McNaughton claims, as he did on Wednesday, "This is a game-changer, and this will save lives".

Reasons listed for eligibility include: Going for a COVID-19 test, awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test, being sick with COVID-19, going to get vaccinated, experiencing side effects of COVID-19, taking care of a dependent with COVID-19, or "having been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other authority".

Basically, Ontario is still offering to provide funds to the federal government to double its Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit payments, adding an additional $500 per week for eligible individuals. 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.

Meanwhile, Canada is poised to receive its first 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, according to a federal source. "You really don't have enough time", he said.

"With WSIB right now you, have to prove that you got COVID in the workplace".

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As an employer, Aujla says it's hard to find staff to backfill these days when any of his workers call in sick - this makes it challenging for him to run his business, which is already operating on a "skeleton crew".

Last week, Health Minister Christine Elliott said the government was studying a recommendation made by Ontario's COVID-19 science table saying that 50 per cent of the province's vaccine supply should be sent to hot spots most in need.

Tony Singh, owner of the grocery chain Fruiticana, which has 15 stores in B.C. and three in Alberta, said over a third of his 60 warehouse employees have been in quarantine and he paid them all two weeks' wages while they were off. "They're the ones who are making money for us", said Singh.

Three days of paid sick leave won't, on their own, cover the total amount of time that a worker who catches COVID-19 is likely to be sick for, but the combination of those three days plus an enhanced CRSB (which will deliver up to 20 more) will substantially improve the welfare of essential workers.

Some people argue that, while they're happy for their tax dollars to support local and independent businesses that otherwise couldn't afford sick pay, they're not entirely on board with bankrolling sick leave at somewhere like Costco. "And there has to be a mechanism online for application by the employer so they're not compromised on their bottom line either".

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