Premier announces doubling of COVID fines, 5-day sick leave benefit for Manitoba

Click to play video: 'Manitoba doubling fines for COVID-19 measures offenders' Manitoba doubling fines for COVID-19 measures offenders
WATCH: Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister announced Friday the doubling of fines for people not complying with public health orders to curb the spread of COVID-19, and the doubling of default payment fees for failing to pay fines on time. – May 7, 2021

Premier Brian Pallister says the province will implement a paid sick leave program in Manitoba, a doubling of all enforcement fines and that further COVID-19 public health restrictions will be coming later Friday.

Dr. Brent Roussin will hold a press conference at 6 p.m. on further public health orders. Global News will stream the event live here.

The paid sick leave program is the second COVID-related sick leave program in Canada. Ontario announced theirs last week.

“The new Manitoba Pandemic Sick Leave program will provide employers with up to $600 per employee for up to five full days of COVID-19-related sick leave, which do not have to be taken consecutively,” said Pallister Friday.

“Eligible sick leave related to COVID-19 includes testing, vaccinations and side effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or care for a loved one in any of the previously mentioned circumstances.”

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Click to play video: 'Manitoba announces 5-day paid sick leave program' Manitoba announces 5-day paid sick leave program
Manitoba announces 5-day paid sick leave program – May 7, 2021

The move is a bit of an about-face for the premier, who has championed the idea of paid sick leave for those who have to isolate due to COVID-19 but has always said the federal government should be laying the groundwork and footing the bill.

Private-sector, non-profit and charitable employers with eligible employees will qualify for the help. However, employers who already give sick leave will not be eligible, including federal, provincial and local governments.

The program begins Friday, May 7 and runs until Sept. 25.

Applications will be available here shortly:

The Manitoba Federation of Labour said they are unhappy that the program is voluntary, not legislated.

“It will only apply to workplaces that decide to provide paid sick days,” they said.

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“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.”

Read more: Manitoba still looking to feds to offer paid sick leave program, Pallister says

Pallister said on April 22 he was hoping to see a paid sick leave program in the recent federal budget but was disappointed when it didn’t appear.

However, labour rights are the purview of individual provinces.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford recently announced a sick leave program for his province.

Called the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Program, it was announced on April 28 and will reimburse employers 100 per cent of the employee’s wage for up to $200 a day for three days.

Click to play video: 'The push for paid sick leave in B.C.' The push for paid sick leave in B.C.
The push for paid sick leave in B.C – Apr 29, 2021

New enforcement orders

Pallister also announced a doubling of enforcement fines for scofflaws who don’t follow public health orders.

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“There is a small, selfish minority of people that aren’t doing their part,” he said, “and in doing so, they’re putting the health of themselves and others at risk.”

“You will pay your fine. And if you do not, you will not be driving your car. We will not issue you a driver’s licence. You can put your car up on blocks and you can leave it there until you pay your fine. And if you don’t drive, we will garnish your wages.”

The new fines include:

  • $596 for failing to wear a mask in an indoor public place
  • $2,592 for gathering contrary to public health orders
  • $10,000 for businesses for failing to comply with public health orders

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