Last week, the Provincial Government announced the implementation of a paid sick leave program, the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit.
As the province’s COVID-19 case count reached an all-time high last week, the government took action to ensure that all Ontarians who did not have access to employer-paid sick days would be able to use the benefit to slow the spread among essential workers.
OREA is sharing this information to ensure that Board Leaders can respond to and assist Brokers and Members when it comes to navigating the new program. Below is a summary of the program.
What does the Ontario Benefit cover?
Under the benefit, employers must pay employees their regular pay, or up to a maximum of $200 per employee, per day for up to three days (total). This could be beneficial for employees who are feeling ill and are waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test. Following the three days, employees can still apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) which offers income support to those who have COVID-19 or are isolating due to exposure. Under this program, employees can receive $450 per week for up to four weeks.
What are the Eligibility Criteria for the Ontario Benefit?
Employers would be required to pay their employees up to $200 per day if they:
- Are sick or may be sick with COVID-19
- Have a COVID-19 related mental health issue
- Are getting tested for COVID-19
- Are getting vaccinated against COVID-19
- Are self-isolating
- Are taking care of a dependent who is sick or self-isolating.
To be eligible for the program, the employer does not require any particular proof from their employee. The program currently only applies to those who fall under the Employment Standards Act and does not cover independent contractors.
The Provincial Government is currently working with the Government of Canada to determine whether they would top up the federal CRSB credit to allow employees to be eligible to receive $1000 per week. We will share more details as they become available.
The Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit is retroactive to April 19, 2021 and will be available until September 25, 2021. For more information, the government has created the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Information Centre at 1-888-999-2248.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.
Policy Specialist, Policy & Public Affairs
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