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Employment Standards Amendment Act a first step forward

Publish date: Monday, March 23, 2020 update

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In the light of the speed with which COVID-19 has impacted our communities and our province’s uncertain future, AMAPCEO is pleased to see the government take important first steps to protect workers.

On Thursday, March 19, 2020, members from all parties in the Legislature passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act to respond to the crisis. The biggest provision is that the province has now mandated job-protected leave to employees who must self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19. It also protects the jobs of those who need time off to care for family members due to illness or to care for children because of school or day care closures. The legislation does not guarantee pay beyond existing employee sick days, but employees may be able to access new Employment Insurance (EI) and emergency benefits announced by the federal government.

In addition, retroactive to January 25, 2020, employees will no longer be asked to provide doctor’s notes to access medical leave, although employers may request additional documentation for caregiving leave. As an example, they can request a note from a daycare confirming closure.

These provisions are for all workers in Ontario, and in particular who do not have access to any sort of paid or unpaid leave. AMAPCEO members are further protected by their strong collective agreements, rights, and entitlements.

AMAPCEO applauds these measures, which will be in place until the government deems COVID-19 no longer a threat. We continue to urge the government to expand these emergency measures and make some of them permanent. For years, we have stated that doctor’s notes are a burden on our medical system, and we continue to advocate for defined paid sick days for all workers.

“The reality is that this crisis is going to impact our neighbours and our communities in ways we can’t even begin to predict yet,” President Dave Bulmer wrote in his recent President’s Message. “We want to ensure that no one falls behind in this time of need.”

More about AMAPCEO and our Members: Established in 1992, AMAPCEO is a bargaining agent that represents 14,000 professional and supervisory public servants, most of whom work directly for the Government of Ontario in every ministry and in a number of agencies, boards and commissions; in 130 communities throughout Ontario and in 12 cities outside Canada. We also represent employees outside the Ontario Public Service in: the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario; Health Quality Ontario; the Ontario Arts Council; Public Health Ontario; the Waypoint Mental Health Centre in Penetanguishene; and in the former Offices of the Ontario Child Advocate and the French Language Services Commissioner (now part of the Ontario Ombudsman).