paid sick days ontario

These Toronto businesses have been offering paid sick days all along

Ontario is just introducing paid sick days now, but Toronto business owners have been stepping up to the plate to offer them to their staff on their own before that.

Krave Coffee owner Calay Hall, for instance, asks her staff to go and get tested if they have any symptoms, and pays them out for their shifts until they receive a negative test result. None of her staff have gotten sick yet, but if someone did, she would continue to pay them until they were able to come back to work or get on a government program.

Krave Coffee proudly posted about it this week: "We don't want sick workers coming in or worrying about bills!"

"We all have enough to worry about these days. I don't want their paycheques to be one of them," Hall tells blogTO.

"I have worked shift-work before and wasn't paid for sick days, so I know how difficult and stressful that can be. Add a global pandemic to the mix and everything is amplified."

Hall has cut her staff down from eight to four and says she has taken a pay cut so that she doesn't have to lay anyone else off. 

She has taken out all government benefits she qualifies for to help pay bills at Krave. Despite that, she says she's still $60,000 in debt because of the pandemic, and is only thinking about how to keep her business operating from one day to the next and how to keep everyone safe.

"Usually if someone falls ill, I would have to come and work and they would make less on their pay," Hall says. "But now, with my new policy, I come into work, and they still get paid. So I'm not 'losing' money unless I have to call in another employee to work."

Hall is also offering paid days to get vaccinated and recover if it falls on an employee's schedule so they don't have to worry about not getting paid or having scheduling conflicts.

"It benefits all of us, and myself, to have as many of my staff vaccinated as possible," says Hall.

When a staff member was potentially exposed to infection at Bar Vendetta, owner Jen Agg similarly jumped into action to offer them paid sick days right away, also announcing it publicly.

The infection turned out to be a false alarm and the person tested negative, the restaurant reopening. Still, it highlighted the need for paid sick days in Ontario.

"It's what we've been doing throughout COVID, anytime anyone is worried about symptoms," Agg tells blogTO

"It's the safer, more practical stance that gets us to the finish line quicker, and big picture, it's actually cheaper, so there's really no excuse."

Lead photo by

Jesse Milns

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