Ontario to ban employers from asking for doctor’s notes
By Allison Jones/The Canadian Press
Ontario is delaying the release of its full budget, instead planning to deliver a scaled-back economic forecast on March 25.
Finance Minister Rod Phillips says it’s important to introduce a financial plan for the province that is as current as possible, given the dynamic situation around COVID-19.
Premier Doug Ford says there are some “rough waters ahead,” but the government is prepared to do whatever it takes to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.
Sick notes banned
The province over the weekend announced it is drafting legislation to ban employers from requiring sick notes for those in self-isolation or quarantine.
It will also ensure protected leave for workers who have to take unpaid leave to isolate themselves or care for others, such as children not in school.
Ontario reported 32 new COVID-19 cases today, bringing the total in the province to 177.
The new cases are across the province, including in Hamilton, Ottawa and Sudbury, but the majority are in the Greater Toronto Area.
New patients are all self-isolating, but other information — including their ages and how they became infected — is sparse.
More nurses added to Telehealth
Meanwhile, following complaints of long wait times for Telehealth Ontario services, Health Minister Christine Elliott says the province is adding more nurses to the system.
“By immediately expanding Telehealth’s resources, we can significantly reduce the time it takes for Ontarians to receive the information they need to stay safe and healthy,” Elliott said in a statement.
About 130 more nurses have been deployed for symptom assessment and referrals. Telehealth is also working to add more intake staff so that wait times are reduced for people to make initial contact with a representative.
The province is also working with the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario to expand supports using its 44,000 registered nurse members, Elliott said.
Ontario’s chief medical officer of health says unless people have severe symptoms or a medical emergency, they should stay at home while waiting for a Telehealth response.
“We understand that people are anxious to get the advice about next steps as soon as possible, which is why the capacity of Telehealth is being enhanced,” Dr. David Williams said in a statement.
Elliott also announced that youth justice facilities have been told to suspend all personal visits and volunteer activities. All “non-essential” leaves for helping youth in custody reintegrate into the community are being restricted.
Elliott and Social Services Minister Todd Smith said video-calling can still be used for family to stay in touch with youth in those facilities.
Lawyers will still be able to visit their clients but should consider using teleconferencing instead, the ministers said.
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