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Concerns grow surrounding lack of additional paid sick leave

Existing paid sick leave options may not be enough incentive for people to miss work
Stock photo.

Additional paid sick leave was notably left out of the Ontario government's newest measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 -- but this could become a barrier for people who cannot afford to stay home.

In fact, the Region of Waterloo Board of Health unanimously passed a motion on Wednesday to advocate for the need for paid sick time during and after the pandemic.

Samara Belitzky, the Senior Associate at Samfiru Tumarkin LLP, says people who are sick can apply for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which provides $500 per week for up to two weeks, but for most, that is not enough to replace their paycheck.

"With respect to employees that decide to stay home, they are going to be home without pay immediately and then later on, they could recieve the $500 per week from the government ... but that's only for a max of two weeks until September of this year.

"Another option is once they do receive the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefits, once they have maxed that out, they may still be able to access EI benefits if they're on a medical leave. So technically, once an employee goes on a medical leave, they then can have the employer issue a record of employment and they can then receive EI benefits."

She added staying at home can be a challenge for people who do not have immediate access to paid sick leave.

"Generally, people have good intentions. They want to stay home from work if they're not feeling well and they don't want to infect other people. But how are a lot of people to do that without getting paid? So I think the government needs to look at this and figure out a way to balance those two things so people have an incentive to stay home."

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