Ontario’s COVID-19 paid sick day program that was to expire at the end of the year has been extended until July 31, 2022.
The Ford government announced the extension on Tuesday.
The program was unveiled in April and requires companies to pay employees up to $200 per day for three days. The government partnered with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to deliver the program and reimburse its staff.
The program is available to all employees, full and part-time. Eligible workers qualify for mental health days and can stay home to care for relatives or family members sick with COVID-19.
“Nearly a quarter-million workers have already used our program, which is the first and most comprehensive in the country, for paid time off work,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
“Our government is working for workers and ensuring they have the support they need to keep themselves and their families safe.”
McNaughton said extending the COVID-19 paid leave program will help more workers take time off to get their booster shots and help more parents take time to get their children vaccinated.
The Ford government says the program has helped over 235,000 people stay safe without losing pay. The government says the average number of days being claimed per employee is two.
The extension of the program comes as Ontario braces for growth in Omicron variant cases. The province’s Science Advisory Table said on Tuesday that the new variant will hit Ontario hard and fast.
The science table said intensive care occupancy would increase over the coming weeks, “likely exceeding” 250 patients by the end of this month without accounting for the Omicron variant, of which at least 21 cases had been confirmed as of early Tuesday.