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Government will have to cover costs if Ontario's paid sick leave program is to work: business owners

Michael Wood, co-owner of Ottawa Special Events, says the majority of small businesses can't afford any added costs right now, so help from the government would be needed.
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Michael Wood on Parliament Hill in November 2020. (Photo/Dani-Elle Dubé)

Just as the Ontario government announced its plan to go ahead with a paid sick leave day program, small business owners are banding together to make sure the program works out for everyone.

Given the current lockdowns and the general impact that the pandemic has had on small businesses, Michael Wood, co-owner of Ottawa Special Events and local business advocate, says if a paid sick day program comes, the cost cannot fall onto the businesses.

“The majority of small businesses cannot afford another cost right now,” Wood told CityNews Ottawa. “That’s one of the things I’ve been advocating to the government, whether it’s been government in power of the opposition, it’s that small businesses cannot afford sick days — the government would have to cover the costs.”

Comparing it to the small business grant from implementing PPE, Wood says there needs to be a system put in place for considering things like: the number of employees, whether they’re considered essential and the business size.

Small businesses need these sick days to keep people at home and safe, Wood added.

“For businesses, there has to be a scale put in place for sick days that businesses up to a certain employment level have that covered by the government,” he said. “Then other businesses that have done very well throughout the pandemic, they should have to pay for theirs. But it has to be effective — and in order for it to be effective, the government will have to cover it.”

Premier Doug Ford confirmed in a Thursday press conference that his government would bring in a paid sick leave for workers.

The announcement came after months of initially saying his government would not implement such a program.

- With files from The Canadian Press

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