On April 28, 2021, the Ontario government announced that it will introduce legislation to create a temporary 3-day paid leave that employees could take for various reasons related to COVID-19,
and that it has offered to work with the federal government to double payments under the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (“CRSB”) to Ontario residents.
New Paid Leave Program
On April 29, 2021, the Ontario government will formally introduce the COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act
(the “Bill”), which would create the new paid leave. If passed, the Bill would require employers to pay eligible employees up to $200 a day for up to three days of paid leave for reasons related to COVID-19, including:
- being sick with COVID-19;
- going for a COVID-19 test or staying home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test;
- going to receive a COVID-19 vaccination or experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination;
- having been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other authority; or
- taking care of a dependent who is sick with COVID-19, has symptoms of COVID-19, and/or is self-isolating due to COVID-19.
The province has emphasized employers would not be allowed to require employees to provide a doctor’s note to prove that they are entitled to the new leave. At present, the extent to which employers could request information for the purposes of determining an employee’s entitlement to the leave remains to be seen. Further, the three days of paid leave would not need to be taken consecutively.
Importantly, the new leave would only be available to employees who are covered by the Employment Standards Act, 2000
and employees who do not already receive paid sick time through their employer. This means that independent contractors, federally-regulated employees, and employees who are already provided with paid sick time by their employer would not qualify for this leave.
Eligible employers would also be able to get reimbursed by the Ontario government for up to $200 for each day that an employee takes the new leave. However, where the employee who took the leave normally earned less than $200 a day, then the employer would only be eligible to be reimbursed for that amount. Such employers are required to submit their application for reimbursement within 120 days of the paid leave being taken.
The new leave would be retroactive to April 19, 2021 and would remain in effect until September 25, 2021, the date the CRSB is set to expire.
Offer to Enhance Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit
Ontario has offered to provide funding to the federal government to increase CRSB payments to Ontario residents, doubling the current benefit amount of $500 per week to a total of $1,000 per week.
The CRSB is a federal program that provides income support for up to four weeks to eligible employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or because they have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.
It is presently unclear whether the federal government will accept the Ontario government’s proposal to double the amount of the CRSB for Ontario residents.
We will review the Bill once it is tabled and provide further information as it becomes available to keep you In the Know
This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues.
This information is not intended as legal advice.