Ontario’s sick day program expires subsequent week

Ontario’s sick day program expires subsequent week

Ontario’s short-term sick day program is ready to run out on the finish of March and officers stay tight lipped over whether or not they’ll lengthen this system, saying as an alternative the coverage has “stuffed its function” and stays “establishment.”

The province’s short-term sick day program, which gave workers three days off whole to get better from COVID-19, was put in place in April 2021 in an try to curb the unfold of COVID-19 in important workplaces.

This system additionally offered eligible staff as much as $200 a day in the event that they wanted to get examined, vaccinated, self-isolate or look after a member of the family.

It was initially meant to final six months however was prolonged a number of occasions. It’s now set to run out after March 31.

In an interview with CTV Information Toronto final week, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton wouldn’t say if this system can be prolonged but once more or made everlasting.

“The paid sick day program is in place and companies have been reimbursed inside two weeks for these paid sick days,” he mentioned.

“As of proper now, it is establishment.”

McNaughton reiterated this assertion when requested by reporters on Monday.

“It is the established order as we communicate,” he mentioned once more.

“The paid sick day program that we introduced a few years in the past roughly has now served over 500,000 staff. We’ll have extra to say about that, however actually this system has labored and stuffed its function.”

The ministry advised CTV Information Toronto on Monday that as of March 3, the federal government has reimbursed about $235 million as a part of this system.

Well being advocates and opposition events have lengthy argued the short-term program was not a powerful sufficient measure to stop the unfold of highly-transmissible sicknesses akin to COVID-19.

In April 2021, the pinnacle of the now-defunct Ontario COVID-19 Science Desk mentioned {that a} “robust, efficient sick pay” would final two work weeks, which equals about 10 days. On the time, the province’s isolation interval after contracting the novel coronavirus was 14 days.

Whereas the pandemic could also be beginning to wane within the province, emergency and household doctor Dr. Bernard Ho argues a scarcity of everlasting paid sick days stays a crucial think about relieving the pressure on Ontario’s health-care system.

“I feel it is a key part of our public well being response, not solely to the pandemic, however generally,” he advised CTV Information Toronto. “I feel it might be very exhausting to repair the burden of our health-care system proper now, repair the overcrowding and the lengthy wait occasions, the staffing shortages, if we do not implement everlasting and satisfactory, paid sick days.”

“Even when and when the pandemic is over, there are nonetheless different respiratory sicknesses, different infectious sicknesses and different persistent situations too that require staff to generally keep at dwelling as a result of they are not in a position to work.”

Ho mentioned he not too long ago noticed a household of 4 who had all contracted the identical respiratory sickness as a result of one among them caught it from a coworker.

“She handed it on to the mother, who handed it on to her husband and her two sons, and none of them may afford to remain dwelling with out paid depart,” Ho mentioned. “All of them went again to work and that is solely contributing to the transmission of respiratory illnesses like COVID.”

Ho is a member of the First rate Work and Well being Community, a gaggle that advocates for higher working and employment situations in Ontario. The group not too long ago launched a report that calls not just for 10 everlasting sick days within the province, however for that quantity to be elevated to 14 days within the occasion of one other pandemic.

The community stresses, nonetheless, that it needs to be employers who foot the invoice and never taxpayers; one thing that issues the Canadian Federation of Impartial Companies (CFIB).

A survey of its members, which incorporates about 38,000 small and medium measurement corporations, discovered that 80 per cent couldn’t afford to pay for sick days themselves.

“They merely can not afford it,” Julie Kwiecinski, director of provincial affairs at CFIB, mentioned in an interview. “Let’s not overlook that we’re nonetheless in a interval of restoration for a lot of small companies.”

“We all know from earlier reviews that the price for a small enterprise to conform per worker with guidelines and laws is about 5 occasions higher than it’s for giant enterprise.”

Ontario’s sick day program expires subsequent weekA person holds up an indication as a gaggle advocating for Provincially mandated paid sick days for staff participates in a ‘die-in’ rally outdoors Queens Park in Toronto, Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston

These employers would help an extension of the paid sick day program because it stands–paid totally by the Ontario authorities–so long as it’s amended to incorporate all different sicknesses quite than stay centered on COVID-19.


In an interview with CTV Information Toronto, Liberal MPP Dr. Adil Shamji mentioned that even when this system is prolonged, three days shouldn’t be sufficient for many staff.

“Three merely is not sufficient for people getting sick, for folks to have the ability to take care of their kids who will get sick repeatedly,” he mentioned.

“We’re nonetheless seeing excessive ranges of COVID in our neighborhood proper now and we all know that respiratory sicknesses wax and wane … it will not be lengthy earlier than we enter in our subsequent flu season or subsequent respiratory season and we’ll be dealing with the very same sorts of challenges and pressures that we did earlier this yr.”

In November 2022, the Progressive Conservatives voted down a NDP invoice that will have offered all workers with 10 days of paid sick depart per calendar yr. It’s a chunk of laws the political get together has tried a number of occasions to push by, with no success.

“We’re getting right down to the right down to the wire now and individuals are going to be questioning what’s taking place after the top of March,” NDP Chief Marit Stiles mentioned.

“I wish to see them lengthen this system however after all we have additionally been pushing very exhausting for 10 paid sick days, everlasting paid sick days, for all Ontarians.”

The federal authorities applied a 10-day sick depart in November, however just for these employed in a federally-regulated non-public sector office.

There isn’t any province or territory in Canada that provides 10 paid sick days a yr.

The Ontario authorities is anticipated to current its finances for 2023 on March 23.

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