COVID-19 Updates | Weekly Workplace Recap from May 7 to May 13, 2021

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Below are the key announcements from the OntarioManitobaAlberta and BC governments that touch on workplace issues from May 7 to May 13, 2021.


Expands Access to Rapid Testing for Workplaces

The Ontario government has launched a new rapid testing portal to make it easier for all essential businesses to access free rapid testing.

Businesses are encouraged to participate in the program by registering at the COVID-19 testing for organizations online portal. It provides free rapid antigen screening kits to help screen for asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 that might otherwise be missed. 

Program eligibility was recently expanded to include any business that is allowed to be open and requires staff to work on-site.

For more information, check out this news release

Invests $100 Million in Ontario Tourism & Travel Small Business Support Grant

The Ontario government has invested $100 million in the new Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant which will provide one‐time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small tourism and travel businesses struggling through the pandemic. 

This grant will support eligible small tourism and travel businesses that did not receive the Ontario Small Business Support Grant (OSBSG), such as travel agents, hotels, motels, resorts, and bed and breakfasts.

Businesses must have less than 100 employees and demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20% revenue decline between 2019 and 2020 to qualify. 

For more information, check out this news release


Introduces Paid Leave for COVID-19 Vaccination

Manitoba has introduced changes to the Employment Standards Code that if passed, will allow workers to take a three-hour paid leave to receive COVID-19 vaccinations.

Under the proposal, employers could require employees to provide reasonable verification for the necessity of the leave, however, employers cannot require a physician's note or medical certificate to avoid unnecessary burden on the medical system.

For more information, check out this news release

Launches Manitoba Pandemic Sick Leave Program

Manitoba is launching a new Pandemic Sick Leave program to provide direct financial assistance to workers.

This voluntary program will provide employers with up to $600 per employee for up to 5 days for COVID-19 related sick leave. This includes time off for testing, vaccinations and side-effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or care of a loved one in any of these circumstances.  

Eligible sick leave related to COVID-19 under the program includes testing, vaccinations and side effects, self-isolation due to COVID-19 symptoms, or care for a loved one in any of the previously mentioned circumstances.

Applications will be available on Friday, May 14, 2021. For more information, check out the Manitoba Pandemic Sick Leave


Helps Local Businesses Access COVID-19 Rapid Testing Kits

A one-of-a-kind partnership with Alberta Chambers of Commerce is making it easier for small and medium-sized businesses to access rapid testing kits.

Employers can apply through the Rapid Testing Program to implement a rapid COVID-19 testing program in their organization. 

For more information, check out this news release

Seeks to Introduce Paid COVID-19 Sick Leave

This Tuesday, May 11, the BC government introduced Bill 13 which, if passed, will amend the BC Employment Standards Act (ESA) to introduce a temporary COVID-19 related paid leave as well as a permanent paid leave for personal illness or injury.

Short Term Paid COVID-19 Sick Leave

Bill 13 proposes to provide employees with up to 3 days paid sick leave if they need to stay home because of COVID-19. For example:

  • Diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Waiting for COVID-19 test results
  • Need to self-isolate or self-monitor
  • Following a public health order
  • Directed to stay home by your employer because of exposure risks

For employers who don't have an existing sick-leave program, the government has indicated that it will reimburse up to $200 per day for each employee absent pursuant to the leave. WorkSafeBC will support the province’s short-term, paid sick leave for COVID-19 by developing an online application, which will be used by employers who are registered for WorkSafeBC coverage to apply for the employer reimbursement program. The online application will be available beginning next month.

Permanent Paid Sick Leave

The legislation will also create a permanent paid sick leave which, effective January 1, 2022, will supplement the existing 3 days of job-protected personal illness and injury leave brought in last spring. The number of paid days will be determined after consultation.

For more information, check out this news release.

COMING SOON! Once Bill 13 receives Royal Assent, our BC Employee Handbooks will be updated to reflect these changes to the ESA.

Sarah Visca
Sarah Visca is the Operations Manager at ConnectsUs HR, a company that provides tools & resources to quickly set up a Human Resources department.  
You can contact her here