The provincial government is working on a paid sick leave program which it says will address the “gaps” in the federal program. 

David Piccini, MPP for Northumberland-Peterborough South, says his government asked the feds to address concerns regarding the speed of payment for those going through the sick leave program. 

“We’re going to get more support out to workers,” Piccini told the Vista National News Desk. “We’re going to get more money to workers faster. We’re going to bridge that gap.” 

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) currently offers up to $500 per week to those who are sick with or have to isolate due to COVID-19. 

Piccini says the Ontario PC government will look to augment the CRSB to speed up the payments for applicants so they can get their money in a matter of days. 

As for a standalone provincial program, Piccini says he does not want small businesses to have to shoulder the cost of sick leave for their employees. When asked if larger corporations could be mandated to pay out, Piccini says it would be complicated. 

“I acknowledge that it’s not lost on people the big players, the Amazons, that have done really well in this pandemic, absolutely,” he said. “This is the exact sort of grey area and nuance that we’re working quickly to address now, but also in a manner that doesn’t stand up massive pieces of legislation that take time.”

Piccini says if large manufacturing companies are forced to pay into sick leave, they may end up leaving the province. 

“You have to strike that balance between having programming that protects and supports workers but not programming that punishes them into unemployment when their employers leave this province,” he said. 

Piccini doesn’t have a firm date for when to expect a paid sick day program in Ontario, saying it will be in the “near future”. When it does come, he adds, it may only be a pandemic measure. 

“Without question, this has to be a measure right now in the pandemic. I can’t speculate on the long-term nature of it now at this juncture. Right now, the priority is getting the money out,” Piccini said.