Proposed ban on sick notes to help public health in Ontario

The measure is said to make ‘good common sense’ for patients and doctors

Proposed ban on sick notes to help public health in Ontario
A legislative proposal set to take effect on Jan. 1 will ban employers from asking workers for doctor’s notes if they take 10 or fewer sick days a year.

“This becomes one less thing to worry about when you’re not feeling well,” Health Minister Eric Hoskins told a news conference at Women’s College Hospital, according to news outlet OurWindsor.

Eric Hoskins said the measure, which is part of the workplace reform law advanced by Premier Kathleen Wynne’s administration, will result in fewer wasted appointments for doctors. It will also let sick workers rest at home instead of spreading their germs.

According to Labour Minister Kevin Flynn, who is pushing the labour reforms that include a minimum wage of $15 by 2019, the law will entitle all workers to at least 10 personal emergency leave days per year, two of which must be paid. Some acceptable reasons for personal emergency leave are illness, caring for sick relatives, and domestic or sexual violence, including threats thereof.

Flynn said that while most employers no longer require sick notes, the ban will ensure that others adopt more modern employment practices.

Dr. Ruth Heisey, chief of family medicine at Women’s College, praised the move, commenting that it makes “good sense” in terms of public health. It will curb people’s tendency to go to work even while they’re sick, which could result in their colleagues getting infected and increased absenteeism. Doctors, meanwhile, could concentrate more on caring for patients rather than preparing notes.

Hoskins also noted that some patients needed to pay out-of-pocket for sick notes, which are not covered under provincial insurance.

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