sick days ontario

Here's the latest update about paid sick leave coming to Ontario

Paid sick days have been quite the hot topic in Ontario as the public weathers yet another full shutdown amid consistently high COVID-19 case numbers. 

With stringent restrictions in place and the province finally ramping up vaccination in the limited ways it is able to given Canada's supply, the measure people have been asking for most lately to help mitigate virus spread is provincially-funded sick leave, so that those whose employers don't provide them paid time off can isolate at home in case they have the disease.

Premier Doug Ford and his team have long resisted the move, pointing instead to the $500 per week for up to four weeks that residents affected by COVID can get from the Canadian government through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).

Earlier this month, Ford told those demanding paid leave to stop "playing politics" and instead help people by directing them to the federal funding.

But some have argued that the CRSB has too much red tape and barriers to accessibility, such as the minimum threshold for how much a recipient has to have made in either 2019, 2020 or the last 12 months — which is $5,000, much like with the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and similar subsidies.

And so, Ford has been pressured to change his stance — especially after the province's own COVID-19 Science Advisory Table recommended such a measure for essential workers in particular — and indicated that some type of paid sick-leave program is indeed on the way.

Though Ford's government voted down yet another paid sick bill that was brought to Queen's Park earlier this week, he's had another idea: topping up Ottawa's existing program to amount to $1,000 per week for any worker who falls ill in the province.

Trudeau at first seemed to neither endorse nor rule out the option, and said that Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland is working with the province on potential solutions.

But then he added at a press conference on Tuesday that the best way to mandate paid sick leave is via employers, saying that "provinces need to look at a way to deliver sick leave directly through employers, which the federal government can't do."

A spokesperson for Freeland verified to the CBC that "when Ontario is ready to mandate sick leave in provincially regulated businesses, as we have done for federally regulated businesses, we will be there to help."

So though it seems that the answer to that suggestion is a no, the feds are willing to support the province in implementing a provincial program or mandating that employers have their own in place, if they finally give in to the calls to do so from all sides.

Lead photo by

Mariah Solomon/Unsplash

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