TORONTO — Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says Ottawa is in talks with Ontario as the province looks to provide paid sick days to workers, but stressed that such leave should be delivered directly through employers.
The prime minister says Ontario should work through provincially regulated businesses to implement a sick-leave program, as his government did with federally regulated workplaces.
His comments echo a statement by a spokeswoman for Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who said earlier today that Ottawa will help when Ontario is ready to mandate a sick-leave program for provincially regulated businesses.
Ontario is offering to double a federal sick-leave benefit if Ottawa can administer the topped-up payment to workers in the province.
The provincial finance minister proposed the change in a letter to the federal government, saying the move would give $1,000 a week to eligible workers.
Peter Bethlenfalvy says it would be the fastest way to enhance sick leave for Ontario workers.
The Ontario government has been heavily criticized for failing to bring a provincial sick-leave program during the pandemic, with experts saying it would help prevent workplace outbreaks of COVID-19.
The recent COVID-19 death of a 13-year-old Brampton, Ont., girl whose father is an essential worker has renewed calls for an Ontario sick-leave program.
Also Tuesday, health-care workers from Newfoundland and Labrador were set to arrive in Ontario, as were three teams of nurses and medical technicians from the Canadian Armed Forces.
The health-care workers are coming in as the province's hospitals are stretched to capacity by an onslaught of COVID-19.
Federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said the government has identified 62 health workers from departments across the country as "potential volunteers" for Ontario.
Meanwhile, the military is sending nine intensive care nurses and up to three multipurpose medical assistance teams to the province, he said.
The Canadian Red Cross is set to provide an initial support of 13 nurses with intensive care and emergency response experience, as well as up to 30 more in the future, the minister said.
The group from Newfoundland and Labrador is expected to increase to up to 14 people, he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 27, 2021.
The Canadian Press