Support for workers and employers will continue until July 31, 2022
The Ontario government is extending its Worker Income Protection Benefit program, which provides paid sick days, until July 31, 2022 to continue keeping workers safe and ensure they do not lose pay if they need to miss work for reasons related to COVID-19. Employees can continue to access this paid leave to get tested, vaccinated, self-isolate, or care for a family member. Should the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit be extended, workers in Ontario have access to the most generous paid sick days program in Canada.
“Nearly a quarter-million workers have already used our program, which is the first and most comprehensive in the country, for paid time off work,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “Our government is working for workers and ensuring they have the support they need to keep themselves and their families safe.”
Extending the COVID-19 paid leave program will help more workers take time off to get their booster shots and help more parents take time to get their children vaccinated. To date, the program has helped over 235,000 people stay safe without worrying about losing pay. The average number of days being claimed per employee is two. To support employers, Ontario will continue reimbursing them for providing this support to their workers.
In addition, the province is taking action to protect jobs and businesses by extending temporary changes to the Employment Standards Act that prevent temporary layoffs of non-unionized employees from becoming unwanted terminations, which can trigger payments and force businesses to close. This measure will now be extended until July 30, 2022.
These efforts build on Ontario’s actions to support workers and businesses as we build the foundation for Ontario’s economic strength and protect our progress against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ontario first introduced paid COVID-19 days in April 2021 as part of the COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021. With the extension of the program until July 31, 2022, employers will have 120 days after their employees are paid to submit their application to the Worker Income Protection Benefit Program.
Over 515,000 paid leave days have been taken by employees since the entitlement was introduced. Employers and workers can call the program’s dedicated hotline at 1-888-999-2248 or visit Ontario.ca/COVIDworkerbenefit to get more information and updates about Ontario’s paid sick days.
Extending paid COVID-19 days aligns with the government’s plan, “A Plan to Safely Reopen Ontario and Manage COVID-19 for the Long-Term”, developed in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health.
Last year, Ontario made a regulatory amendment to prevent temporary layoffs from becoming permanent to help workers and businesses hit hardest by the pandemic.