Hamilton Liberal MP Filomena Tassi defends the federal government’s paid sick leave program to business

For the past two years, Amanda Plantinga’s Ancaster business, The Spa on Wilson Street, has been closed more than it has been open since it began operations in January 2019.

The personal services business, which includes spa treatments, facials, waxing and nail extension, employs around five people, whom Plantinga has tried to keep working despite repeated restrictions from locking. She applauded the federal government’s wage subsidy and rent programs, but her bills still have to be paid whether her business is closed or not. And his bills will only increase with the approval of paid sick days, Plantinga said.

“We get the wage subsidy that covers wages and my staff work more hours, but our taxes at the end of the month, it’s crazy,” said Plantinga, who participated with 19 other small business owners in a virtual round table. with Hamilton Liberal MP Filomena Tassi on April 29.

On the same day, the Ontario legislature passed new legislation that will grant employees three days of paid emergency leave during COVID-19. Businesses are expected to pay the initial costs of the program, but the province will reimburse business owners up to $ 200 per day per employee through the Accident Insurance Commission of Canada. job.

Provincial legislation would provide an additional $ 500 per week to the federal government‘s $ 500 per week ($ 450 after tax) of Canada’s recovery sickness benefits program. People can access the benefit for up to four weeks if they are required to self-quarantine due to COVID-19.

Since its launch in September 2020, the federal benefit has paid out more than $ 271 million for a total of approximately 318,118 people. However, critics argue that accessing the benefit is “tedious.” Workers can only apply after they have had to stay home and they have to wait three to five days if they have a direct deposit account with the Canada Revenue Agency, or up to 10 days or more. more for a check.

Opponents also argue that since the rules were relaxed to allow four weeks of federal support, the number of people approved to receive it has dropped from 67,000 in September to just 20,000 in January 2021, just as cases of COVID-19 have increases. The program is scheduled to end in September 2021.

Tassi said that while the federal program would normally only cover federally regulated employees, it includes all employees across the country.

“What we said was we had to deploy it quickly, we had to support the people,” Tassi said. “They needed to put food on the table; they had to pay rent. We didn’t want workers to work sick. We have heard the cry of Canadians.

In a previous interview, Tassi said what has been particularly “frustrating” for her over the paid sick days issue is that the federal government has not been recognized for providing relief to Canadians. in times of crisis.

“We didn’t want to see anyone go to work sick,” Tassi said. “I just want to work with (the provincial leaders) and find a solution.”

Despite praising the federal government’s grant programs, Plantinga said all levels of government need to do more to keep small businesses running.

“Taking a loan just to cover your bills, I don’t think that’s a good option,” Plantinga said. “We don’t know how long we can survive with this.”

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About Christopher Easley

Christopher Easley

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