Nova Scotia

Nova Scotians who miss work due to COVID-19 may be eligible for paid sick days

Nova Scotia is now offering up to four paid sick days for people who must take time off work due to COVID-19.

Provincial government offering up to 4 paid sick days as part of $16M program

The program includes those who need to take time off because they are awaiting a test appointment, those who are getting tested, those who are self-isolating while awaiting test results and those who are going to get vaccinated. (Robert Short/CBC)

Nova Scotia is now offering up to four paid sick days for people who must take time off work due to COVID-19.

In a news release Wednesday, the government said people who cannot work remotely and miss less than 50 per cent of their scheduled work time in a one-week period due to COVID-19 may be eligible.

That includes those who need to take time off because they are awaiting a test appointment, those who are getting tested, those who are self-isolating while awaiting test results, and those who are going to get vaccinated.

Premier Iain Rankin said the $16-million program addresses gaps in the federal Canada recovery sickness benefit, which workers are only eligible for after missing at least 50 per cent of their scheduled work week.

"If someone is symptomatic and they think they may miss just two or three days, I think that some of them may take the risk and go to work for financial reasons," said Rankin during a media briefing Wednesday.

"We want to eliminate that as a possibility to prevent any spread in some of these workplaces."

NDP pleased with new policy

The sick days do not have to be taken consecutively. Any sick days taken between May 10 and July 31 may be eligible for the program.

The program will cover employee wages, including wages of self-employed people, up to a maximum of $20 per hour or $160 per day.

The maximum payment over the 12-week period is $640 per worker. Eligible businesses that continue to pay their employees during their leave will be eligible to be reimbursed by the program.

The NDP has long advocated for a policy that would bring sick pay to all Nova Scotians.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill said he was pleased with the announcement, calling it "an important victory for the people of Nova Scotia."

Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill says the program should be made permanent. (Robert Short/CBC)

"An awful lot of people have been campaigning for this for a long time," said Burrill in an interview. "There has been a real groundswell call for this, particularly through the pandemic, but actually pre-dating the pandemic."

Burrill said the only shortcoming is that it is a temporary program.

"We need permanent paid sick leave as part of the labour standard of the province," he said.

The new program is retroactive to May 10.

British Columbia recently announced it was offering three paid days off to workers for absences related to COVID-19, days after Manitoba announced it was offering five days of sick leave.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aly Thomson

Reporter/Editor

Aly Thomson is an award-winning journalist based in Halifax who loves helping the people of her home province tell their stories. She is particularly interested in issues surrounding justice, education and the entertainment industry. You can email her with tips and feedback at aly.thomson@cbc.ca.

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