The Ontario government says it will extend its paid sick leave program by three months so that it runs until the end of the year as new data emerges on the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
The program, which legalizes up to three paid sick days per employee, would run until September 25, but it will now run until December 31.
The province launched the program in April after a barrage of calls from health experts to help workers so they do not have to choose between staying home when they are sick and being able to pay their bills.
The program requires employers to provide employees with up to $ 200 in pay for up to three days if they miss work due to COVID-19. The government then compensates employers through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board.
Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labor, Training and Skills Development, said in a statement on Tuesday that the province was expanding the program due to “new data” on the rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant, which was first identified in India.
“Our government’s COVID-19 paid sick leave program was scheduled to end on 25 September 2021. In response to new data showing that the Delta variant is spreading faster and more transmissible, we are extending our COVID-19 paid sick leave program until 31 December 2021 to ensure that we continue to vaccinate people as quickly as possible and workers who are ill is to protect against this virus, ”McNaughton said.
The Doug Ford government has faced strong criticism from opposition parties and health experts for failing to mandate paid sick leave earlier in the pandemic, as front-line workers were in the way. Ontario’s COVID-19 science table also criticized the program, saying it does not go far enough and that anything closer to 10 days would be more appropriate given the length of time a positive diagnosis keeps someone at home.
While 75 percent of Ontario’s qualifying residents are now fully vaccinated, infection rates have continued to pick up in recent weeks and the rolling seven-day average of new cases now stands at 702 as children prepare to return. times after personal learning.
“With the majority of people in Ontario now vaccinated, our province is in a better position than before, but we must continue to remain cautious and ensure that we take all necessary steps to ensure the health and safety of all in To protect Ontario, “McNaughton said.