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Ontario announces plan to offer three paid sick days

Wednesday, April 28, 2021 @ 5:21 PM | By John Schofield

Responding to demands from its own science advisory table to provide a provincial paid sick day program to curb the spread of COVID-19, Ontario has announced plans for a temporary program that would allow workers to take three sick days paying up to $200 a day.

In a April 28 news conference, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton said the government will introduce legislation April 29 that, if passed, that would require employers to pay workers that amount if they miss work due to COVID-19.

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board will deliver the initiative, to be called the Ontario COVID-19 Income Protection Program, and the government will reimburse employers up to $200 a day.

The program would be retroactive to April 19, 2021, and would run until Sept. 25, 2021, the date the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) expires.

At the news conference, McNaughton and Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy said the province has also offered to provide funding to the federal government to double CRSB payments to Ontario residents, adding an additional $500 per week to eligible individuals for a total of $1,000 per week. However, Ottawa has not yet agreed to Ontario’s proposal.

In a news conference following the announcement, NDP Official Opposition Leader Andrea Horwath said the proposed program, with only three paid sick days, would fall short of what workers required to self-isolate for 14 days would need.

“It’s pretty troubling that the government still doesn’t understand how desperate people are to ensure their income is protected,” she said. “These are some of the most vulnerable workers here we’re talking about, and three days will simply not cut it.”

On April 28, Ontario reported 3,480 new COVID-19 cases and 24 additional deaths — the fourth consecutive day the province has reported fewer than 4,000 new cases. The seven-day rolling average of new infections stood at 3,783, down from 4,327 at the same point the previous week.

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