Nova Scotia relaunches paid sick leave program amid COVID-19 surge

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The Nova Scotia government announced a paid sick leave program Wednesday for those affected by the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic. Those eligible could receive up to four days. (Anjuli Patil/CBC - image credit)
The Nova Scotia government announced a paid sick leave program Wednesday for those affected by the fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic. Those eligible could receive up to four days. (Anjuli Patil/CBC - image credit)

The Nova Scotia government is relaunching its paid sick leave program amid the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and a surge in cases in the province.

Those eligible for the program could receive up to four days.

People who cannot work remotely and miss less than half of their scheduled work time in a one-week period because of COVID-19 may be eligible, a news release from the province stated.

"We know people are feeling extra stressed at this holiday time, and we want them to know more assistance is coming with the relaunch of this temporary program," Premier Tim Houston said in a statement.

"People should continue to do the right thing — just as they did during the third wave — to keep our workplaces safe. Please follow public health protocols and stay home when you are not feeling well."

The program is expected to launch Jan. 10, 2022 and run for two months.

The program will be retroactive to include sick days starting from Dec. 20, 2021.

Like last time, 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 15-week period is $640 per worker.

'It's good to see'

Eligible businesses that continue to pay employees during their leave may be reimbursed by the program.

The provincial program complements the federal Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit, which may apply after an employee has been off for 50 per cent or more of their scheduled work week. The federal program runs until May 2022.

"It's good to see the Houston government bring back what was successful earlier this year," said Nova Scotia Liberal Leader Iain Rankin.

Rankin said with Nova Scotia facing the highest cases to date, the paid sick leave program is "just another tool" to help curb the spread of COVID-19 in workplaces.

"Some businesses are voluntarily shutting down. I'm noticing that now. But they're going to need more support. You're going to need more business support. But this is one way that we can help the employees and at no cost to business."

Curbing the spread

Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill is also happy to see the government bring back the aid program.

"We need also to remember that there are tremendous pressures on an awful lot of people who are not getting their pay while they're having to isolate," Burrill said.

"With this hyper-contagious variant, we need to make more sure than ever that if people have even the hint of a symptom that they stay home and the paid sick leave program makes it possible for people to do that."

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