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Ontario government will extend paid sick days program until July

Queen's Park in Toronto on June 1, 2021. Global News File

Ontario’s temporary paid sick leave program is being extended until next summer.

The government announced Tuesday that program, which had been due to expire at the end of this month, will remain in place until July 31.

The program offers three days of paid sick leave for each worker, which the province has said can be used for getting tested for COVID-19, isolating while waiting for results or getting vaccinated.

Days can also be used to care for a sick relative, get a booster COVID-19 shot if eligible or take young children to get vaccinated, the government said Tuesday.

Read more: Paid sick leave bill introduced for workers in Saskatchewan

Employers are reimbursed for up to $200 per day for each employee through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, which delivers the program.

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As of Tuesday, the government said the program had been accessed by more than 235,000 people since it was introduced in April, with two days representing the average claim.

The Progressive Conservative government introduced the measure during the deadly third wave of COVID-19 infections after intense pressure from health experts and advocates.

Read more: Ontario reports 928 new COVID-19 cases, 9 more deaths

Critics have said the program doesn’t offer enough paid sick leave, noting that it’s far less than the 10 to 14 days health professionals recommend for a period of self-isolation due to COVID-19.

The government extended the program once before in August.

News of the latest extension came after calls from opposition politicians to keep the program in place amid rising COVID-19 cases, and the new threat of the Omicron variant.

Click to play video: 'Feds announce 10 days paid sick leave for federally regulated workers'
Feds announce 10 days paid sick leave for federally regulated workers

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