ontario sick days

Here's how paid sick days in Ontario compare to other provinces and countries

Paid sick days in Ontario have been a hot and divisive point of debate over the past two years, amid lockdowns and resurging respiratory illnesses

Many hospitals across the province are cracking under pressure amid a surge in childhood respirtatory illnesses fuelled by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza.

The immense demand on healthcare workers in Ontario has once again caused a resurgence of debates around how many paid sick days workers should be entitled to in the province. 

So far, the Ontario government has shown little interest in making changes despite many opportunities to do so.

Earlier this week, Doug Ford's government once again voted against expanding paid sick days to Ontario workers.

For the time being, most employees in Ontario are still only eligible for three paid sick days a year, although each employer can increase the number if they wish to do so. 

Recent history of paid and unpaid sick days in Ontario

In April 2021, the Ontario Government amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to require employers to provide their employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave related to COVID - which was in addition to employees' rights to unpaid infectious disease emergency leave. 

Ontario's Worker Income Protection Benefit (WIPB) was also officially extended to March 31, 2023. 

According to Ontario's ESA, an employee who has been employed for at least two consecutive weeks is "entitled to a leave of absence without pay because of a personal illness, injury or medical emergency." 

Bill 4, the Stay Home If You Are Sick Act, 2022 (which has not been passed) has gained popular among workers and advocates, and amends the ESA to provide workers in Ontario with 10 annual paid days of personal emergency leave and 14 days of paid leave in the case of an infectious disease emergency. 

Paid sick leave is also a job-protected leave under Part III of the Canada Labour Code that only provides employees in the federally regulated private sector with up to 10 days of leave per year. 

How paid sick days in Ontario compare to other jurisdictions

The number of paid sick days workers are entitled to varies across provinces in Canada. Ontario offer three.

Not all provinces require paid sick days, and for the most part, sick leaves are granted without reimbursement. 

  • British Columbia: 5 days of paid leave per year for any personal illness or injury 
  • Alberta: Employers are not required to pay for sick time where an employee did not earn wages
  • Saskatchewan: Paid sick leave is not provided for in The Saskatchewan Employment Act
  • Manitoba: 3 days of unpaid sick leave in a year 
  • Quebec: 2 days of paid absence per year after 3 months of uninterrupted service 
  • Nova Scotia: No paid sick days, only 3 unpaid sick days each year 
  • PEI: 1 day of paid sick leave available per year after employment for five years 
  • Newfoundland and Labrador: No paid sick days, only 7 days unpaid sick leave 
  • New Brunswick: 5 unpaid days per year for sick leave

Elsewhere in the world, some countries offer more paid sick leave when compared to Ontario. 

  • Australia: 10 days paid sick leave for full-time employees 
  • Sweden: Entitled to 80 per cent of salary for up to one year 
  • Iceland: 100 per cent of pay for first 12 days of illness 
  • United Kingdom: £99.35 per week Statutory Sick Pay for up to 28 weeks 
  • Italy: 3 days paid sick leave (with doctor's notice) 
Lead photo by

Decent Work and Health Network

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