Manitoba launches COVID-19 paid sick leave program, offers up to 5 days off

WINNIPEG — Manitoba has created a new paid sick leave program for employees who have to miss work due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Premier Brian Pallister announced the program Friday morning at the Manitoba Legislative Building.

The program will provide employers with up to $600 per employee for up to five full days of sick leave related to COVID-19, and the days do not have to be taken consecutively.

“The purpose of our program is not only to protect you, and protect workers and customers of small businesses across our province, but to take the worry out of being sick,” the premier said. “There’s enough worry without adding to it.”

The eligible sick leave related to COVID-19 includes testing, vaccinations and side effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or caring for a loved one in any of the above circumstances.

Employers who currently provide paid sick leave to their employees are not eligible, while private-sector, non-profit and charitable employers can qualify for assistance. Workers who live in Manitoba and are paid on a full-time or part-time basis are eligible.

The program eligibility begins today and will run until at least Sept. 25. Applications will be available here in the next week, Pallister said. (link to portal)

MFL CRITICIZES PROGRAM

The Manitoba Federation of Labour has criticized the announcement, saying not all workers in Manitoba have access to the program.

“The program is voluntary, not legislated like Ontario’s paid sick days program, so it will only apply to workplaces that decide to provide paid sick days,” said MFL president Kevin Rebeck in a statement. “A provincial program meant to fill the gaps of the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit shouldn’t create more gaps by design. All workers should have access to paid sick days, regardless of their employer’s decisions.”

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