Three paid sick days for Ontario workers who need time off due to COVID-19

Province will also top up payments offered to workers under federal sick leave program

Full and part-time Ontario workers will get three paid sick days under legislation to be introduced by the Ford government.

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton told a media briefing on Wednesday that workers who need time off due to COVID-19 will be eligible to receive up to $200 per day for up to three days.

“We are the only province in Canada to introduce paid sick days specific to COVID-19. If passed, all workers will soon have access to three paid sick days. This is more than the one day available to workers in Prince Edward Island and the two days available to workers in Quebec.”

The temporary program will be managed through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) and will end on Sept. 25.

The government said it will introduce a bill on Thursday that, if passed, will require employers to provide employees with up to $200 for up to three days if they miss work due to the virus.

“We want to ensure businesses survive this pandemic and that workers have jobs to come back to. That is why as part of our Ontario COVID-19 worker income protection benefit, employers will be reimbursed for what they payout,” explained McNaughton.

The payments will be retroactive to Apr. 19.

In addition, McNaughton said the government will top up the payment already offered to workers through the federal government’s Canada Recovery and Sickness Benefit (CRSB).

The province proposed to the Trudeau government they increase CRSB payments from $500 to $1,000 per week. The Ford government said it will pick up the tab for the top-up but it’s not clear if Ottawa will agree to the proposal.

“We are stepping up to fill these gaps. We are the first in the country to double payments for the federal sick days program,” said McNaughton.

Liberal leader Steven Del Duca said the Ford plan was too little, too late and confusing.

“Today’s half-hearted attempt at a paid sick leave program is an abandonment of workers. It’s been a week since his apology and 412 days since my first letter on paid sick leave, and what Doug Ford came up with is a failure. In the last week alone, more than 20,000 people have gotten sick and 159 have died while we waited for some form of action,” said Del Duca.

“I don’t understand why Doug Ford arbitrarily picked September as an end to this program instead of the end of the pandemic, as defined by the Science Table. I also don’t understand how he could think three days is enough time when he himself has been in isolation for more than a week after testing negative.”

Del Duca accused Ford of trying to salvage his own career instead of saving the lives of essential workers, and he called on the premier to step down.

“He needs to resign for his total failure to lead this province through a crisis.”