Ontario’s COVID-19 Paid Sick Days Extend To 2022: Sources

Prime Minister Doug Ford’s government is extending its COVID-19 sickness benefits program beyond its scheduled expiration in late December, CBC News has learned.

Ontario’s COVID-19 workers’ income protection benefit will be extended until July 31, 2022, according to senior government sources. The maximum number of paid sick days that each employee can take during the program will remain capped at three.

The extension comes as Ontario is on average seeing more new daily cases of COVID-19 than at any time in the past six months.

The program requires employers to offer all their employees up to three days of paid leave for a variety of reasons related to the pandemic, including getting the COVID-19 vaccine, showing symptoms, or caring for a member of the community. sick family. The government reimburses employers who do not normally pay sick pay to their workers up to $ 200 per employee per day.

The program was launched in April as Ontario battled the third wave of the pandemic, after months of pressure from public health experts and labor rights advocates. It was originally scheduled to expire in September, but the province then extended it until the end of 2021.

Ontario’s Employment Standards Act now requires employers to provide their workers with up to three days of paid leave for a variety of COVID-19-related reasons, including getting the vaccine, showing symptoms, or being sick. caring for a sick family member. (Ian Black / CBC)

Employers have submitted claims for more than 235,000 employees and have been reimbursed more than $ 80 million in wages, according to statistics published by the Ministry of Labor.

The government budgeted $ 1 billion for the program, so it did not use even a tenth of its allocation.

Earlier on Tuesday, opposition New Democrats urged the government on paid sick leave.

“In three weeks, workers across Ontario will no longer have paid sick leave,” said Doly Begum, NDP MP for Scarborough Southwest, referring to the program expiring on the 31st. December.

“To take paid sick leave when we are on the verge of another wave just before this hectic holiday season is beyond cruel,” Begum said.

Government House Leader Paul Calandra hinted that the sick pay program would be extended, but stopped before committing to it.

“This is the right program and it has made a big difference in the lives of our essential workers across the province,” Calandra said. “We will, of course, continue to be there for workers in the province of Ontario, not only during COVID, but as we always have been. ”

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