News & Media

Message from James Barry regarding COVID-19 and proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act

March 18, 2020

UPDATE: March 18, 2020 3:23:14 PM

Proposed amendments to the Employment Standards Act

On March 16, 2020, Premier Ford announced that the Ontario government will be tabling legislation to amend the ESA in light of COVID-19. As stated in government’s new release, if passed the legislation would provide job protection for employees unable to work because:

  • the employer directs the employee not to work
  • 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 or is acting in accordance with public health information or direction
  • the employee is in isolation or quarantine
  • 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 legislation will also prohibit employers from asking employees to provide a medical note if they take this leave. If passed, these proposed amendments would apply retroactively to January 25, 2020.

Emergency Care Benefit

On March 18, 2020, the Federal Government announced the creation of an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks for those workers who do not otherwise qualify for employer paid sick leave and/or EI sickness benefits and/or EI regular benefits.
This flat-payment Benefit will be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:

  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not quality for EI sickness benefits.
  • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.

Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require applicants to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:

  • by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
  • by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
  • by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process

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