COVID-19 Updates


Paid infectious disease emergency leave

On April 29, 2021, the Ontario Government amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 to require employers to provide employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave because of certain reasons related to COVID-19covid 19. This entitlement is in addition to employees’ rights to unpaid infectious disease emergency leave.

Paid infectious disease emergency leave is available for certain reasons related to COVID-19covid 19, including:

  • going for a COVID-19 test
  • staying home awaiting the results of a covid-19 test
  • being sick with COVID-19
  • getting individual medical treatment for mental health reasons related to covid 19
  • going to get vaccinated
  • experiencing a side effect from a covid 19 vaccination
  • having been advised to self-isolate due to covid 19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other specified authority
  • providing care or support to certain relatives for covid 19 related reasons, such as when they are:

o    sick with covid 19 or have symptoms of covid 19

o    self-isolating due to covid 19 on the advice of a medical practitioner or other specified authority

Paid leave under existing contract

Employees who have rights to paid leave under their employment contract (which includes a collective agreement) may not be eligible for paid infectious disease emergency leave or may be entitled to fewer than three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave under the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA).

For an employee’s three-days of ESA paid leave to be reduced, all four of the following criteria must be met.

On April 19, 2021:

  1. The employee had the right to a paid leave under their employment contract for one or more of the same reasons that paid infectious disease emergency leave can now be taken under the ESA.
  2. The employee had not already used up those days of paid leave under their employment contract before April 19, 2021 and those days were still remaining.
  3. The employee’s employment contract provided pay for the leave that is at least as much pay as the employee would be entitled to receive for paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA.
  4. The employee’s employment contract did not contain conditions for taking the leave that are more restrictive than what is set out in the ESA for taking paid infectious disease emergency leave.

Where all four of these criteria are met, the employee’s three-day entitlement to paid infectious disease emergency leave under the ESA is reduced by the number of days available under their employment contract that meet the four criteria.

Proof of entitlement to leave

Employers may require employees to provide evidence, reasonable to the circumstance, that they are entitled to the leave. What is considered reasonable in the circumstances will depend on all the facts of the situation.However, employers cannot require an employee to provide a certificate from a doctor or nurse as evidence.

If it is reasonable in the circumstances, evidence may take many forms, such as:

  • a copy of the information issued to the public by a public health official advising of quarantine or isolation
  • a copy of an order to isolate that was issued to the employee under s. 22 or s. 35 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act
  • an email from a pharmacy or from a public health department indicating the employee’s appointment date and time to receive a COVID-19covid 19 vaccination.

We understand that everyone is trying to do their part to limit the spread of COVID-19. As the situation changes by the day, we’re paying close attention to the information and guidelines from federal and state governments and working with employers to ensure that the decisions being made are in the best interest of our members and their families.

We also put together some resources to help you stay safe and healthy.

When you visit usw.org/COVID19, you’ll find helpful tips you can follow to help you prevent the spread, some downloadable materials you can share with other members of your local, a list of cancelled USW events and a form you can complete to tell us if you’re encountering issues at work related to the COVID-19 outbreak.


We will be updating usw.org/COVID19 often, so check in with us often for the latest.

As we navigate these unknown waters, one thing is clear….our solidarity is our greatest strength and we will make it through this if we stick together.

In solidarity,

Your USW International Executive Board


  • $6B in Tax Relief for Businesses. The Government will provide five months of interest and penalty relief on the majority of provincial taxes applicable to businesses.
  • $1.9B WSIB Deferment. This money will go to the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) to allow employers to defer their payments by up to six months.
  • $1.8B School Tax Deferment. The upcoming June 30 deadline for municipal remittance of education property tax will be deferred by 90 days. This will enable municipalities to pass this deferral along to businesses and residents.
  • $1.5B in Electricity Cost Relief. Eligible farm and small business consumers will see more affordable electricity bills thanks to a $1.5B increase in 2020-21 cost relief programs. In addition, these groups will now pay the lowest available rate for their electricity consumption for a period of 45 days.
  • $355M in EHT Tax Cuts. This change would make 90% of all Ontario private-sector employers eligible to not pay the Employer Health Tax (EHT) in 2020.
  • $200M for Research and Innovation. This money will go to research institutions, industry, and nonprofit scientific partners to develop tools and resources to combat COVID-19 and related diseases.
  • $148M for the Nonprofit Sector. Charities and nonprofit social services organizations, including food banks, homeless shelters, churches, and emergency services, will receive this money to support their capacity to respond to the pandemic. Funding will be allocated directly through the Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Service Administration Boards.
  • $100M for Skills Training. Employment Ontario will provide skills training programs for workers affected by the outbreak.
  • $26M for Indigenous Communities. This additional support will provide communities with funding for healthcare professionals, critical supplies, and support for urban Indigenous people in financial need.
  • New Tax Credit for Businesses in Affected Regions. Businesses in regions lagging in employment growth will benefit from the new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit, a 10% refundable corporate income tax credit. This tax credit will be available to eligible businesses that construct, renovate or acquire qualifying commercial and industrial buildings in designated regions, saving them up to $45k in the year. Is your business benefiting from all possible tax credits and grant programs? Book a consultation now to find out.
  • Procurement. A new website, Ontario Together, encourages manufacturers to produce essential equipment.
  • Employment Protection. Employees in isolation or quarantine or that need to be away for childcare will be able to take job-protected leave. This legislation is expected to quickly pass.
  • Emergency Childcare. Frontline workers can benefit from emergency childcare options.

The Ontario Government also announced Wednesday it will release a multi-year provincial Budget by Nov. 15, providing it with more flexibility to respond to the changing COVID-19 situation.