Federal government insists Ontario must make provincial businesses pay for sick leave

28 Avril, 2021, 02:52 | Auteur: Christine Menetries
  • Ford government offering to double federal sick leave payments

In an April 22 letter from Ontario Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy to federal Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland, the provincial government details an offer to double the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) for Ontarians from $500 to $1,000 per week.

On Ontario's paid sick leave request, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Freeland is engaged directly on this adding that the "Provinces need to look at the way to deliver sick leave directly through employers, which the federal government can't do". "This proposal will do nothing to stop countless workers from being forced to make untenable decisions and the Ford government's proposal does nothing to change that".

Last week Premier Doug Ford said his government is working on a sick benefits plan but did not commit to any timeframe. Later, during a press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said provinces need to look at delivering sick leave through employers, which he said Ottawa can't do.

Rather than creating its own program, the province has made an offer to the federal government, stating it will pay the difference and offer workers $1,000 a week rather than the current $500.

The CRSB already pays eligible sick workers for up to one month but critics maintain that it is hard to access and takes too long to process.

And the Canada recovery sickness benefit is created to support workers who don't have a regular employer, or as a stop gap until their province mandates paid sick days, Freeland spokesperson Katherine Cuplinskas said in a statement to CBC News.

"In fact, the wage subsidy was designed - and is already set up - to provide employers with financial support to pay the wages of workers who are on sick leave", the statement reads.

Ford's Conservative government has repeatedly shut down calls for provincially-mandated paid sick days to combat COVID-19 spread during the pandemic.

But on Tuesday, multiple media outlets reported that the Ford government's plan now involves boosting the benefit offered by the federal government.

Ontario calls on federal government to double sick leave payments Minister of LabourCBC News Toronto37 minutes ago1:35
Ontario calls on federal government to double sick leave payments Minister of LabourCBC News Toronto37 minutes ago1:35

The federal program Ford is trying to supplement provides workers with $450 a week after tax.

Ontario's offer falls short of providing provincially paid sick days, which many public health experts and labour advocates have been calling for throughout the pandemic.

As it stands right now, the only available support is through the federal government and only those missing work due to COVID-19 and those missing more than half a workweek currently qualify.

Ontario Solicitor General Sylvia Jones explained on Tuesday morning, the federal program needs to be updated and expanded.

"We were quite disappointed that during the federal budget last week that they didn't make any improvements".

Dr. Michael Warner, the medical director of critical care at Michael Garron Hospital in Toronto, said the province's strategy will not get to the root cause of the issue.

He noted that "workers need reassurance their paycheque will be unchanged" if they take time off for symptoms or to care for symptomatic dependents, exposure, testing, vaccination, and recovery from vaccination.

"It is not meant to be something that gives essential workers the security in knowing that they can leave their job site, not go to work because they are already feeling ill, or because they need a vaccine".

"I assure you, it is not lost on me that unlike many people I'm able to isolate and continue working".

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