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Small business group says Ontario paid sick leave program is ‘inadequate, unfair’

TORONTO — A group of small business owners and advocates says Ontario’s recently announced paid sick leave plan is “inadequate and unfair” for small businesses.

The Better Way Alliance, a group of businesses that advocates for higher wages and other labour rights, said the province’s Worker Income Protection Benefit does not go far enough, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Ontario’s COVID-19 paid sick leave program to include 3 days for workers

Labour Minister Monte McNaughton announced Wednesday that the three-day sick leave policy will be retroactive to April 19 and will end on Sept. 25. Employers will be reimbursed for up to $200 a day for what they pay out.

“We are especially dismayed to learn that … large companies who don’t need the help (will) be paid out of taxpayer funds for these days,” the group said, adding that small business owners who already provide paid leave will not be similarly reimbursed.

“It rewards those corporate giants who refused to provide paid sick leave until they were forced to.”

The paid sick leave plan adds to corporate subsidies at the expense of small businesses, which are “penalized for doing the right thing,” it said.

Read more:
Ontario is launching paid sick leave. Should other provinces follow suit?

The group says targeted financial support should be available for small businesses, which have thinner margins and lower revenues than big chains making a profit during the pandemic.

A legislated paid sick leave would level the playing field for small businesses trying to compete with big corporations, it said.

“The fact that small businesses like ours have been again sacrificed in order to prioritize the interests of corporate giants shows that it was never ‘burden on small business’ that this government was worried about,” it said.

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