Trudeau says Ontario sick leave should be delivered directly through employers

Lawrence Kim
April 28, 2021

680 NEWS obtained a letter sent to federal Finance Minster Chrystia Freeland from Finance Minister Bethlenfalvy, in it Mr. Bethlenfalvy says the provincial government is prepared to make this commitment "immediately" and pay the full cost of the top-up.

On Ontario's paid sick leave request, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Freeland is engaged directly on this adding that the "Provinces need to look at the way to deliver sick leave directly through employers, which the federal government can't do".

"When Ontario is ready to mandate sick leave in provincially-regulated businesses, as we have done for federally-regulated businesses, we will be there to help", Cuplinskas said.

NDP Leader Andrea Horwath once again openly criticized Ontario's approach to protecting residents, saying "Every delay of the paid sick days Doug Ford promised last week means more infections and more families devastated". Later, during a press conference, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said provinces need to look at delivering sick leave through employers, which he said Ottawa can't do.

And the Canada recovery sickness benefit is created to support workers who don't have a regular employer, or as a stop gap until their province mandates paid sick days, Freeland spokesperson Katherine Cuplinskas said in a statement to CBC News.

The proposition from the PC government comes after intense political debate about the need for paid sick leave, with the NDP suggesting the measure could save the lives of front-line employees who have continued to work during the pandemic.

The Doug Ford government is proposing that the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) be increased from the current $500 a week for a maximum of four weeks.

"We've joined with other provinces, like British Columbia, to call on the federal government to be our partner to ensure that workers, not only in Ontario but across the country, are paid more than minimum wage", McNaughton said Tuesday.

The federal program Ford is trying to supplement provides workers with $450 a week after tax. They have argued that workers with COVID-19 are still turning up at workplaces deemed essential because they can not financially afford to take the time off to isolate.

Ontario's offer falls short of providing provincially paid sick days, which many public health experts and labour advocates have been calling for throughout the pandemic. This is the first time they've indicated that they want to talk to us. As well, the low-profile of the program has saw a relatively low number of people apply considering the federal government has made $1 billion available.

"We are calling on the federal government to do the right thing because this is a national issue that needs to be dealt with and we'll continue to work with them and encourage them to make improvements so that we can have a better system so more people can apply".

Meanwhile, the military is sending nine intensive care nurses and up to three multipurpose medical assistance teams to the province, he said.

Dr. Abdu Sharkawy, an infectious diseases specialist in Toronto, said the province is simply "passing the buck" to the federal government. "This is the definition of passing the buck. We are going in circles here unfortunately with the province saying the federal government has to do the work here", he said.

Workplace outbreaks have caused devastation in places where many essential workers live, especially Peel Region.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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