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Sick notes should be permanently banned in Ontario, Green leader says

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner is calling on the province to revoke sick notes permanently saying they make 'absolutely no sense.'

Province temporarily suspended sick notes during COVID-19

Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner says the province should ban employers from requiring sick notes from employees permanently. (Kate Bueckert/CBC)

Ontario's only Green Party MPP has introduced a bill that would see sick notes become a thing of the past in Ontario. 

Guelph MPP and Green Party of Ontario Leader Mike Schreiner says making people go to the doctor to get a note to say they're sick makes no sense, especially during a pandemic.

On Monday, Schreiner introduced a private member's bill calling on the province to change the law permanently so employers can't ask employees for sick notes.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the province, employers could ask employees to provide a note from their doctor to prove they were sick.

Sick note requirements were temporarily suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Schreiner says they should never be brought back.

"I'm hearing from workers, but I'm also hearing from health-care professionals that requiring sick notes makes absolutely no sense anytime," he said. "Why would you require people who are sick to go to a doctor's office, potentially getting other people sick, simply for an administrative requirement to get a sick note, but it especially makes no sense during a pandemic."

Schreiner says he's heard Premier Doug Ford call frontline workers heroes and if the province really believes that, then a move away from sick notes makes sense.

"If we're going to call frontline workers heroes, let's treat them with respect, treat them like heroes and permanently eliminate the need for sick notes, which will keep everyone safer," he said.

On Friday, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development Monte McNaughton would not say whether the province would consider banning sick notes permanently.

"One of our government's first actions in response to COVID-19 was passing job-protected leave for anyone dealing with COVID-19. The protections contained in our emergency legislation are substantial — and they do not require a sick note," McNaughton's statement said.

"For example, all parents in Ontario should know: if they keep their children home due to COVID-19, their job is safe. They cannot be fired," he added.

"When it comes to sick days, Premier Ford signed an historic deal with the federal government in mid-July that includes a $1.1 billion investment to cover the cost of 10 paid sick days."

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