Ontario to Introduce Paid COVID-19 Leave

Published on April 30, 2021

Ontario to Introduce Paid COVID-19 Leave

While Ontario government continues to work with the federal government to further support vulnerable workers by doubling payments made through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) program, the province will introduce legislation that, if passed, will offer up to three paid sick days per employee.

On Thursday, April 29, 2021, Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, will introduce legislation that would, if passed, require employers to provide employees with up to $200 of pay for up to three days if they are missing work because of COVID-19. This program will be retroactive to April 19, 2021 and effective until September 25, 2021, the date the CRSB will expire.

By providing time-limited access to three paid leave days, the province is ensuring employees can pay their bills as they help stop the spread of the virus, including by getting tested, waiting for their results in isolation or going to get their vaccine. The province will partner with the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board to deliver the program and reimburse employers up to $200 per day for each employee.

“Our government has long advocated for the federal government to enhance the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program to better protect the people of Ontario, especially our tireless essential workers,” said Minister McNaughton. “It is a tremendously positive step that the federal government has signaled their willingness to continue discussions on the CRSB. Now we can fix the outstanding gap in the federal program so workers can get immediate support and can stay home when needed."

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. Combined with the province’s proposed three days of paid COVID-19 leave, doubling the CRSB would provide Ontario workers with access to the most generous pandemic paid leave in the country.

“Ontario is very proud of those working throughout this unprecedented time to keep essential parts of our economy and local communities open through the pandemic,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board. “The government of Canada and Ontario have done a historic job delivering the Safe Restart Agreement last year. New provincial funding would allow eligible individuals to receive a total of $1000 per week through the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program if missing work because of COVID-19. Ontario looks forward to continuing discussions to secure Ottawa’s commitment to administer the program with the top-up to all Ontario applicants. We believe that this is the simplest and fastest way to increase program uptake and make this program more effective for those people who need this program most.”

If an eligible worker learns that they must isolate for longer than 50 per cent of the time they would have otherwise worked for the week, whether because of a positive COVID-19 test or risk of exposure, they may apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit if they haven’t taken a paid leave day under this proposal.

This latest measure builds on other existing provincial supports like job protected leave and access to isolation facilities, making Ontario’s approach the most comprehensive COVID-19 sick leave in the country.

Employers and their workers can call a dedicated COVID-19 Sick Days Information Centre hotline at 1-888-999-2248 or visit Ontario.ca/COVIDworkerbenefit to get more information and updates about the proposed Ontario COVID-19 paid leave days.

The province continues to visit workplaces to ensure they are adhering to COVID-19 safety requirements. Since the beginning of 2021, occupational health and safety inspectors and multi-ministry teams of provincial offences officers have conducted more than 21,900 COVID-19-related workplace inspections and investigations across the province. During these visits, more than 17,260 orders and more than 520 COVID-19-related tickets have been issued, and unsafe work related to COVID-19 has been stopped 35 times.

As the Ontario government continues to do what is necessary to control the spread of COVID-19, it remains vital for the federal government to secure more vaccines sooner and close the loopholes in border restrictions that will continue to allow new, more contagious variants to enter the country.

“Since the very beginning of the pandemic, Ontario has led the country in protecting our workers and today’s announcement provides even more support. Ontario was the first province in the country to legislate job-protected leave during the pandemic, we were the first to offer to top-up the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, and we will be the first to introduce legislation to supplement the CRSB with additional paid sick days. Ontario has our workers’ backs.” – Nina Tangri, MPP for Mississauga-Streetsville

“I want to thank the Premier and Minister of Labour for putting Ontarians first with the best paid sick days in Canada. Not only are we doubling the federal program, we are filling the gap with 3 days of pay through employers so workers can get tested, wait for their results or get a vaccine. With this new paid sick days legislation, Ontario is on track to beat COVID-19. Additionally, we are working on securing a steady federal supply of vaccines, expanding vaccination and working to secure our borders with our municipal and federal counterparts.” – Kaleed Rasheed, MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville

"From the very beginning of the pandemic, the health and well-being of our province's frontline workers has been our utmost priority. That's why we enacted legislation for job-protected sick leave so no Ontario worker would have to worry about losing their job when having to self-isolate. This news today is another important way our government is protecting frontline workers as they continue to do essential work to support Ontario during the third-wave. We will ensure that no Ontarian will have to choose between isolating at home or putting food on the table." – Natalia Kusendova, MPP for Mississauga-Centre

“Mississauga-Malton has a large population of vulnerable workers and this will provide some support. We are positive that the ongoing conversation with the federal government will remove the serious deficiencies with the CRSB so that our essential workers do not need to pick between putting food on the table and their health.” – Deepak Anand, MPP for Mississauga-Malton

“Supporting hard working families is a priority for our government, and we are working to ensure workers have seamless pay protection with the most generous pandemic paid leave in the country. Our government is leading the way by filling the gap in the federal government’s Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and supporting the well-being of each and every Ontarian.” – Sheref Sabawy, MPP for Mississauga Erin-Mills

“With today’s announcement, Ontario will become the first province to fill in the gaps in the federal government’s Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), and provide the most comprehensive COVID-19 sick leave in Canada. We will do this without burdening our small businesses during this challenging time.” – Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP for Mississauga-Lakeshore