Ontario to do away with sick note requirement for short absences

TORONTO — Ontario will do away with sick note requirements for short absences as part of a larger effort to ease the administrative burden on doctors.

The province will soon introduce legislation that if passed will no longer allow employers to require a sick note from a doctor for the provincially protected three days of sick leave workers are entitled to.

A spokeswoman for the labour minister says employers will retain the right to require another form of evidence from an employee such as an attestation or a receipt for over-the-counter medication.

Health Minister Sylvia Jones says they are also expanding a pilot program that uses artificial intelligence to summarize or transcribe conversations with patients to more than 150 primary care providers.

Jones says the patient must give their consent to doctors to use the program.

The province says it will also digitize more referral and consultation forms and is working to improve the eForms platform.

"Together these changes put patients before paperwork, allowing clinicians to spend more time with their patients, resulting in a more connected and convenient patient care experience," Jones said.

Ontario Medical Association President Andrew Park said doctors are spending nearly as much time in front of a computer as they do with patients.

The burden is unnecessary and leads to an average of an "alarming 19 hours a week of physicians' time," he said.

"It keeps them from patient visits or a healthy work-life balance, or in most cases, both."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 24, 2024.

The Canadian Press