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Ontario to introduce paid COVID-19 leave


Toronto – The Ontario government has introduced legislation that, if passed, will provide up to three paid sick days per employee.

If passed, the legislation will 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 Sept. 25, 2021, the date the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will expire.

The time-limited access to three paid leave days is meant to help employees 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 Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in a news release. “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.”

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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.

“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,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board.

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.

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.