ETOBICOKE – The provincial government is working on an enhancement to sick leave benefits for workers who contract or have to self-isolate due to COVID-19.
Premier Doug Ford said that he was disappointed Monday’s federal budget did not include improvements to the existing federal sick leave emergency program and the government is looking at a provincial program to protect workers.
Ford spoke from his family home as he himself is self-isolating after a staff member tested positive for COVID-19. The Premier tested negative but is following self-isolation protocols.
An emotional Ford apologized for the overly-strict restrictions and closures imposed last week.
“We got it wrong,” said the Premier. “That means if we get something wrong, we will fix it.”
After announcing restrictions last week, the government dialed back police checks and playground closures over the weekend.
Golf courses and other outdoor recreation amenities were also closed in the emergency measures last week. The Premier did not say if those facilities will be reopened, or any other restrictions implemented, would be clawed back. Ontario is two weeks into a six-week stay-at-home order.
New COVID-19 infections have dropped from the mid-4,000 new cases per day range down to below 4,000 cases per day since the lock down began. The Ministry of Health reported 3,682 new cases of COVID-19 Thursday morning.
Responding to a question from the Globe and Mail, Ford said the mobility of people in the province, and the skyrocketing projections led to the province “moving too quick.”
“I assure you there are no easy choices left,” he said. “I know these lock downs have been devastating for people.”
Ford did not offer details of the new provincial sick day “top-up” program other than saying it would be the best in North America.
Until now, the provincial government has deflected calls for any program, directing people to the federal benefits.
No timeline was given on when the new program would be announced or go into effect.