Paid Sick Leave In Canada Is Pretty Rare & Only 2 Provinces Require It By Law
As Ontario considers paid sick leave, a look around the rest of the country shows that only two provinces have it required by employment and labour laws.
While employers may choose to offer more benefits and days off, Quebec and P.E.I. are the only regions where workers are entitled to receive a minimum number of paid days, and even then there are conditions that must be met.
Here's what sick day policies look like in every province and territory.
Federally Regulated Industries & Workplaces
People who work for the Government of Canada or in the public sector are entitled to up to five sick days per calendar year.
For employees who have been at their jobs for three months, three of those sick days are paid.
Per B.C.'s Employment Standards Act, workers who have been with their employer for 90 days are entitled to three unpaid days off in the event of illness or personal injury but a doctor's note may be required.
The province added additional unpaid, protected leave for COVID-19 related reasons like receiving a vaccine, isolating after exposure or diagnosis, and caring for someone for reasons related to the pandemic (such as school closures), among others.
If an employee has been working somewhere for more than 90 days, under Alberta's laws they are entitled to five unpaid days off for personal or family leave.
As part of their pandemic response, the province has also added measures to allow workers, regardless of how long they've been somewhere to take a protected, unpaid leave without needing a doctor's note for reasons related to COVID-19.
For employees who have worked somewhere for more than 13 consecutive weeks, they are allowed to take up to 12 days off per calendar year for non-serious illness or injury but employers can ask for verification and this is unpaid time.
During the pandemic, Saskatchewan has introduced Public Health Emergency Leave to protect workers who have been told to isolate or have to care for someone else because of COVID-19.
It's available to anyone regardless of how long they've been working and no doctor's note is required but it's is unpaid.
Manitoba's only regular protected leave (meaning you can't be fired for not working) related to illness or injury is for serious, long-term situations.
It is for people who have been working for more than 90 days, is unpaid, but can be up to 17 weeks, as long as proper proof is provided.
The province has introduced a temporary protected leave for COVID-19, allowing workers to take unpaid time off for reasons related to the pandemic.
Per Ontario's Employment Standards Act, people who have worked somewhere for more than two consecutive weeks are entitled to three unpaid sick days.
The province also introduced unpaid infectious disease emergency leave, which allows workers to take time off for reasons related to COVID-19 without needing a medical note.
Quebec is one of the few regions in Canada where employees are entitled to paid sick days.
For people who have been with their employer for three months, they can receive two paid sick days per calendar year.
Beyond those paid days, employers are not required to pay workers if they're on a longer leave of absence due to COVID-19.
Under the province's Employment Standards, people who have been with their employer for more than 90 days can get five unpaid days off, however, their work can ask for a doctor's note if they need four or more days off in a row.
New Brunswick also has put in place an Emergency Leave for employees who cannot work because of COVID-19 but this is unpaid time off.
Prince Edward Island
Alongside Quebec, P.E.I. is the only other province that requires paid sick leave by law, but it isn't very much.
Only employees who have been at the same company for five consecutive years are entitled to one paid day off. Otherwise, people who have worked at one place for three months can get three unpaid days and a doctor's note is only needed if they're taken back to back.
However, unlike other provinces, P.E.I. has introduced a fund to support workers who need time off due to COVID-19 but don't qualify for federal benefits, however, specific eligibility requirements must be met.
In Nova Scotia, workers are entitled to three unpaid days off each year if they are sick, have to take care of a sick relative, or need time for medical appointments.
During the pandemic, the province has made it so employers cannot demand a doctor's note if workers need time off to self-isolate and encourages workplaces to "consider how they can support employees while they're self-isolating."
Newfoundland & Labrador
Per the province's Labour Relations, a person who has been with the same employer for 30 days is entitled to seven unpaid days in a year off for sick leave or family responsibilities, but documents may be required if it's more than three days in a row.
There's also the Newfoundland and Labrador Communicable Disease Emergency Leave to protect people who need time off for reasons related to COVID-19 from being fired.
Workers in Yukon are entitled to a maximum of 12 unpaid sick days depending on how long they have been with their employer and a doctor's note may be required.
As part of their pandemic response, the territory has introduced a Paid Sick Leave Rebate which provides workers with 10-days worth of wages if they are off to recover, isolate or care for a family member due to COVID-19.
The territory's Employment Standards state that people who have been with their employer for at least 30 days are entitled to five unpaid days off if they are incapable of working due to illness or injury, but a doctor's note may be required for more than three consecutive days off.
While the territory's general sick leave laws are hard to find, for public service employees and those working for the Government of Nunavut, they can earn sick leave credits for each month of work, which they can use for paid time off if they are ill or injured.
Verification or a medical certificate may be required depending on the situation.
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