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Paid Sick Leave (An Act to Amend the Employment Standards Act)
Opposition Green Caucus
February 11, 2022

Creating a healthier economy

Trish Altass, MLA Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke
Official Opposition Critic for Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture

View proposed legislation:

Paid Sick Leave – Consultation Draft

On February 8th, the provincial government released “Moving On: Transition Plan to Living with COVID-19”. This plan provides government’s roadmap for easing public health restrictions over the coming weeks. However, the plan does not identify what supports will be made available to Islanders during and after this transition.

While the federal and provincial governments have offered temporary paid sick leave programs, there has been no indication that these programs will be extended to support workers who protect their communities by staying home when sick.

Throughout the pandemic, health experts, labour organizations and economists have stressed the importance of paid sick leave in preventing the spread of illness like COVID-19. [1] [2] [3] [4] Lack of sick leave can lead to prolonged illness, reduced productivity and economic disruption, and the furthered transmission of illness. [5] [6]

Inadequate paid sick leave disproportionately impacts the most economically and medically vulnerable. Lower-income workers are the least likely to have paid sick leave, while also being the least likely to be able to work from home. [7] In British Columbia, the Seniors’ Advocate found that long-term care and assisted living sites that offered less paid sick leave were more likely to experience COVID-19 outbreaks than other sites. [8]

Current sick leave is not enough to support Islanders

On PEI, the Employment Standards Act entitles workers to three days of unpaid sick leave a year after three months of continuous employment. Workers are also entitled to one day of paid sick leave after five years of continuous employment.

According to the 2016 General Social Survey, more than half of Island workers did not have access to paid sick benefits. [9]

Statistics Canada reports that the accommodation and food services industry and wholesale and retail trade industry had the lowest and third lowest average job tenure on PEI, respectively [10]; this suggests that workers in these sectors are among the least likely to have access to any form of paid sick leave through PEI’s existing legislative framework. Access to paid sick leave is also a gender equity issue; women on PEI are more likely than men to miss work due to illness or disability. [11]

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What are other jurisdictions doing?

In light of calls for improved paid sick leave, some Canadian provinces have taken legislative and regulatory steps to provide more permanent forms of paid sick leave. Ontario now provides 3 paid sick days in relation to a designated infectious disease [12], British Columbia has prescribed 5 days of paid sick leave after 90 days of continuous employment [13], and Quebec provides 2 paid sick days per year.

Federally, the House of Commons has passed legislation providing 10 days of paid sick leave to workers in federally regulated sectors.

Workers shouldn’t have to choose between financial security and protecting others

Trish Altass, MLA for Tyne Valley-Sherbrooke and Official Opposition critic for Economic Growth, Tourism and Culture, is proposing legislation that would provide workers with up to 10 paid sick days a year and allow workers to use their available paid sick leave before any available unpaid leave.

It is also crucial for government to support smaller businesses during this transition to providing permanent paid sick days for all workers.

The Office of the Official Opposition is seeking public feedback on this proposed legislation.

View proposed legislation:

Paid Sick Leave – Consultation Draft

Public feedback can be submitted online by email to officialopposition@assembly.pe.ca.

Feedback can also be sent by mail to:

Office of the Official Opposition
PO Box 2000
Charlottetown PE
C1A 7N8

Submissions will be accepted until 12:00 PM on Friday, March 4, 2022.



[1] Decent Work and Health Network. “Before it’s Too Late: Full Report and News Release”. Aug. 19, 2020. https://www.decentworkandhealth.org/beforetoolate

[2] Weisgarber, Maria. “Group including doctors, economists calls on B.C. to legislate at least 10 employer-paid sick days”. CTV News. Oct. 21, 2021. https://bc.ctvnews.ca/group-including-doctors-economists-calls-on-b-c-to-legislate-at-least-10-employer-paid-sick-days-1.5632864 

[3] Canadian Medical Association. “CMA calls for extraordinary measures as pandemic surpasses critical point”. April 16, 2021. https://www.cma.ca/news-releases-and-statements/cma-calls-extraordinary-measures-pandemic-surpasses-critical-point 

[4] Neatby, Stu. “Labour Federation, Greens call for paid sick leave in P.E.I. after outbreaks shutter businesses”. The Guardian. Mar. 1, 2021. https://www.saltwire.com/prince-edward-island/news/labour-federation-greens-call-for-paid-sick-leave-in-pei-after-outbreaks-shutter-businesses-558330/ 

[5] Heymann et al. “Contagion Nation: A Comparison of Paid Sick Day policies in 22 Countries”. Center for Economic and Policy Research. May 2009. https://cepr.net/documents/publications/paid-sick-days-2009-05.pdf 

[6] Scheil-Adlung & Lydia Sandner. “The case for paid sick leave”. World Health Organization. 2010. https://www.who.int/healthsystems/topics/financing/healthreport/SickleaveNo9FINAL.pdf 

[7] Partnership for Work, Health and Safety. “Ability to work from home and paid sick leave benefits by precarious employment and socioeconomic status”. May 28, 2020. https://pwhr.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2020/09/GSS-COVID-19-Research-Brief-2020.pdf 

[8] Isobel MacKenzie. “Review of COVID-19 Outbreaks in Care Homes in British Columbia”. Office of the Seniors Advocate of British Columbia. Oct. 2021. Page 24. https://www.seniorsadvocatebc.ca/app/uploads/sites/4/2021/10/Outbreak-Review-Report.pdf

[9] Partnership for Work, Health and Safety. “Ability to work from home and paid sick leave benefits by precarious employment and socioeconomic status”. May 28, 2020. https://pwhr.sites.olt.ubc.ca/files/2020/09/GSS-COVID-19-Research-Brief-2020.pdf 

[10] Statistics Canada. Table 14-10-0055-01 Job tenure by industry, annual. https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/t1/tbl1/en/tv.action?pid=1410005501 

[11] “Women in PEI: A Statistical Review 2020”. Page 45. https://www.princeedwardisland.ca/sites/default/files/publications/women_in_pei_a_statistical_review_2020.pdf 

[12] O’Ferrall et. al. “Ontario employers must provide new paid COVID-19 leave”. Osler. May 3, 2021. https://www.osler.com/en/resources/regulations/2021/ontario-employers-must-provide-new-paid-covid-19-leave 

[13] Canadian Press. “British Columbia’s new paid sick leave policy takes effect”. Global News. Jan 1. 2022. https://globalnews.ca/news/8483164/bc-paid-sick-day-policy/ 

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