After weeks of pressure, Ontario has announced a program of paid sick leave benefits. It’s the latest move by Premier Doug Ford’s government to help curb the transmission of COVID-19.
Labor leaders, doctors and others have been calling for a paid sick leave benefit in Ontario for months. Critics say workplaces have become hotspots for the spread of the coronavirus because many workers can’t afford to stay home, even when they feel sick. It’s a matter of putting food on the table for their families.
Last week, Ford said his government was working on it. On Wednesday, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton took that further.
"We’re stepping up today with a generous paid sick day program for workers in Ontario to ensure that we get through COVID-19 and workers stay home when they’re sick," McNaughton said.
With the federal government open to doubling income support through their existing program, workers could be eligible for $1000/week in addition to 3 paid sick days. Our workers will have access to the most generous pandemic pay program coast to coast. https://t.co/8cFSgsGT57 pic.twitter.com/OC5rcXxNUk
— Monte McNaughton (@MonteMcNaughton) April 28, 2021
The proposed legislation would require employers to pay workers $200 per day for up to three days if they are feeling sick or getting their vaccine. Taxpayers will be footing the bill. Employers will pay the employee out of pocket and be reimbursed by the Ontario government.
The program is retroactive to April 19 and will run until the end of September.
Critics still say three days of paid sick days is disappointing. Opposition New Democratic Party Leader Andrea Horwath said it's far from Ford’s claim that it’s the best sick day program in North America.