Saturday , June 12 2021

Move would allow employers to require a medical note due to absence from illness

TORONTO – A national group of doctors raises concerns about the Ontario government's efforts to allow employers to require employees to provide a medical note explaining even minor illnesses such as a cold.

The president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Giga Osler, claims that the measure – included in government law No. 47 – may cause public health problems because it will lead the patients to a doctor's office or work instead of staying at home.

CMA published the results of an online survey, which it commissioned to evaluate the opinion in this matter.

According to a survey conducted by Ipsos, the majority of working Canadians oppose the permission of employers to force sick patients to pay attention to minor diseases.

The survey also found that eight out of ten Ontario residents who responded would probably come to work when they were sick if their employer requested a sick leave.

Ipsos claims that the online survey reached 1134 employed Canadians above 18 years of age, and the results are accurate within 3.3 percentage points, 19 times at 20.

"Requiring a sick leave can put unnecessary public health risks and patients who would otherwise be at home can spread viruses or infections to get sick leave," said Osler in a statement issued by CMA on Friday morning.

She said that legislation also constitutes an unjust burden on society – and for doctors.

"In the case of doctors, writing a note about the disease is added to the administrative work – the time to spend, providing direct care to patients," said Osler in a statement.

The previous liberal government has changed the provincial Employment Standards Act to prohibit employers from requesting a letter of "personal emergency leave" from a doctor that includes personal illness or injury.

The progressive conservative "Making the Ontario Open for Business Act", inter alia, would repeal this provision, allowing employers "to require proof of entitlement to leave that is justified under the circumstances."

Legislation aims to "restore jobs and investments in our region by reducing the burden on business and ensuring that hard work will be rewarded," said the Ministry of Labor.

Neither the Ministry of Labor nor the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care responded immediately to the request for comment.

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