Ford government proposes COVID-19 worker protections amid criticism
The Ontario government says it will introduce legislation to protect workers during the COVID-19 crisis.
Premier Doug Ford and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training, and Skills Development announced that if the legislation passes, employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, as well or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures, will be protected.
The protection would apply if:
- The employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19
- The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act
- The employee is in isolation or quarantine
- The employee is acting in accordance with public health information or direction
- The employer directs the employee not to work
- The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure
The proposed legislation comes after criticism from the opposition, who said the Ontario government wasn’t doing enough to protect workers during the pandemic.
Businesses like Paramount Food should be celebrated for doing the right thing during the #COVID19 crisis.— Andrea Horwath (@AndreaHorwath) March 14, 2020
But workers protections & paid sick days shouldn’t be optional. That’s why Mr. Ford needs to stop employers from mandating doctor’s notes & return the paid sick days he cut. https://t.co/G3eqFEgLYq
“While everyone’s concerns about their health and safety is top of mind, the last thing we need is anyone worrying about job security as the COVID-19 situation evolves,” said Premier Ford.
“Mothers and fathers who need to care for children or dependants shouldn’t have to worry about losing their job,” added Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development.
The proposed legislation would also make it clear that an employee will not be required to provide a medical note if they take the leave.
The measures would be retroactive to Jan. 25, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.
Workers could also be eligible for Employment Insurance sickness benefits.
“We are actively working with our partners at all levels in the health care system and implementing enhanced and comprehensive measures to prevent the spread of this virus and protect the health of all Ontarians,” added Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health.
The Ford government says it is also reviewing current access and eligibility to emergency assistance through the Ontario Works (OW) program to support individuals who are impacted by the coronavirus and who are not able to meet their basic living expenses.
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