Ontario extends sick leave program until March 2023

Ontario will be extending its temporary paid sick leave program by about eight months as the province continues to battle the spread of COVID-19.

The program, which offers up to three paid sick days per employee, will remain in place until March 31, 2023. It was originally set to expire at the end of July.

In a news release issued Thursday, the government said eligible workers will continue to receive up to $200 a day if they need to get tested, vaccinated, self-isolate, or care for a family member who is ill from COVID-19.

The Doug Ford government first amended the Employment Standards Act in April 2021 to allow for three paid sick days in an attempt to curb COVID-19 transmission in essential workplaces. The program was meant to be in place for about six months, but it has been extended multiple times.

The program remains temporary and specific to the novel coronavirus. In December, Labour Minister Monte McNaughton said he was committed to offering three paid sick days throughout the pandemic.

“I’ll keep my word and we’ll make sure that those paid sick days are there as long as COVID is here,” he said. “This is front and centre for me. It’s a priority. I will make sure that workers have paid sick days throughout this entire pandemic.”

It is unclear if the program will remain in place after the pandemic is declared an endemic. CTV News Toronto has reached out to the government for comment.

In 2018, the newly-elected Ford government axed a Liberal provincial paid sick leave program, arguing that it was up to employers to give workers time off if they require it.