Author: Jacob

The Government’s Plan to Extend the Sick Leave Allowance

They made doors, gum and jerry cans. Ontario’s ‘essential’ workers in manufacturing accounted for more workplace COVID deaths than any other sector — even health care.

On March 29, Ontario announced that it would be extending the paid sick leave that workers in Ontario Public Service were entitled to by a year. The government justified the move as a way to stop workers from taking time off when they’re sick.

The rationale was that it was the least-cost way for the government to contain the spread of COVID-19 on the labour force.

So, on March 29, workers in manufacturing were given an extra 90 days of paid sick leave, while health care workers, paramedics and frontline workers got 70 days.

While these increases are designed to help reduce the spread of the virus on the labour force, that’s only a portion of the problem.

As part of the federal response to COVID-19, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced the closure of the legislature on April 13.

That meant that, for the next six weeks, all major daily activities — the news conferences, government debates, debates in the legislature — would be conducted remotely.

For public servants, that meant they were confined to their offices, answering calls from other government departments.

For teachers and their staff, it meant that kids — and, later, everyone — would be in class. Even though they’re not in class, teachers have to prepare for school, answer questions for their students, plan for their school’s online learning programs, deliver lessons, prepare for staff meetings and more.

There are countless other examples of essential workers who could be taking time off to comply with the current COVID-19 order: farmers, electricians, nurses, cooks, grocery store workers, bus drivers.

The COVID-19 Emergency Response Benefit has offered some compensation to workers laid off due to the pandemic, but the government announced Wednesday that it would be extending the benefit period to March 31, 2020.

This money would give some workers who lost their jobs a chance to apply for a wage subsidy.

The government also intends to increase the number of workers eligible to receive sick-leave benefits, from 200,000 to 250,000 workers with disabilities. These benefits, however, will be phased out

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