After months of resisting, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has finally agreed to implement a form of paid sick leave for vulnerable workers. The “Worker Protection Benefit Program” will provide 3 paid sick days for full time and part position workers in Ontario. The Ontario Government said its proud to announce that it will be administered by the WSIB.
According to today’s announcement, the government will reimburse 100% of the cost of the program. It is expected to cost the Government of Ontario between $750 million and 1.5 billion dollars. The program will also extend until September 25th, 2021.
“This is a game changer, and this will save lives” said Ontario’s Labour Minister. Employers will be reimburse $200 each day for three days.. The government hopes that this could be used for employees to take their vaccines while getting paid.
“If a warehouse worker is told to self-isolate they can do so without losing a paycheck and if a grocery store needs to take time off to get vaccinated they can get paid while doing so,” said McNaughton.
While the announcement was welcome news for many, labour advocates believe that it still falls short. “Paid sick days must be employer provided and accessible, have 7 permanent paid sick days and 14 paid sick days during public health emergencies such as the COVID-19 pandemic,” says the Decent Work & Health Network.
“Without universal and accessible paid sick days, Ontarian’s will be left in a difficult and precarious employment situation. Women, migrants, racialized workers, and workers with disabilities are among those who are most at risk,” the Decent Work & Health Network adds on their website.
Despite this, the province is confident that the program will help to fill gaps left by the Canada Emergency Sickness Benefit, which requires workers to miss half a week of work to qualify.