Ontario unveils paid sick-leave program as Nova Scotia shuts down schools, businesses

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Ontario is unveiling a new paid sick-leave program for workers who need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, while Nova Scotia shuts down schools and non-essential businesses in an effort to reduce the spread of infection.

The Ontario government says it will give all workers three days of paid sick leave, and reimburse employers up to $200 a day for what they pay out through the program.

The announcement comes after months of pressure from health experts and advocates to provide paid sick leave to help curb workplace infections, which remain a major source of outbreaks in hot spot areas.

The province also issued an emergency order today meant to free up capacity in its overburdened hospitals. The measure allows hospitals to transfer patients waiting for a long-term care bed to any nursing home without their consent.

Out east, a full shutdown took effect in Nova Scotia today in an effort to rein in surging COVID-19 cases.

The lockdown in Nova Scotia is set to last two weeks and comes as the provinces grapples with nearly 500 active infections – including 75 new cases reported today.

Newfoundland and Labrador reported four new cases Wednesday, as well as its first case of a COVID-19 variant first identified in Brazil.

In Quebec, which logged 1,094 new infections and 12 additional deaths on Wednesday, relatives of a woman who developed blood clots and died after receiving the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine urged people to watch closely for symptoms following immunization.

Francine Boyer received the shot alongside her husband on April 9 and began to experience headaches and severe fatigue in the following days, according to a statement issued by her family.

She was treated in hospital and at the Montreal Neurological Institute, but died of a cerebral thrombosis on April 23.

"Ms. Boyer's family would like to encourage people who receive a vaccine to stay alert for symptoms or unusual reactions and to contact Info-Sante (811) if in doubt," the statement said.

Public health officials in Quebec have said they believe Boyer is the first person in Canada whose death can be potentially linked to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Experts have repeatedly stated that blood clots related to the AstraZeneca shot are very rare and the benefits of vaccination outweigh the risks.

Meanwhile, Canada is poised to receive its first 300,000 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine Wednesday, according to a federal source. The doses are expected to be distributed to provinces next week.

Canada's panel of vaccine experts, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, hasn't issued any guidance yet on how the vaccine – the fourth approved for use in Canada – should be used.

Another 650,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine also arrived at Toronto's Pearson airport, the Canada Border Services Agency said.

The shipment contains only half of what Canada initially expected to receive, however, due to production issues. It was also delayed from last week.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 28, 2021.

Paola Loriggio, The Canadian Press