WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is proposing legislation that would allow workers to take protected leave due to the COVID-19 pandemic and apply for federal benefits.
In a release, Premier Brian Pallister said Manitoba would be the first province to introduce such changes to that more Manitobans can access new benefits at the federal level.
“Our first priority is protecting the health and well-being of all Manitobans, and this legislation would save workers from making the difficult decision whether to earn a paycheque or stay home while sick,” Pallister said.
The federal program came into effect September 27 and Manitoba’s legislation would be retroactive to that date. The province says amendments are necessary to close gaps between Manitoba’s existing protected leave provisions and the new federal program, and ensure all Manitoba workers eligible for the new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) are protected if they take a leave of absence from their job to access the benefits.
In April, the province introduced unlimited unpaid protected leave for workers required to self-isolate or care for a family member because of the pandemic. To align with federal eligibility criteria, the amendments would extend provincial leave entitlements to include workers who are more susceptible to COVID-19 because of underlying health conditions, ongoing medical treatments or other illnesses.
Eligible workers can now apply for the newly available CRSB, which offers $500 per week for up to two weeks, and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit, which provides workers $500 per week for up to 26 weeks to take time off to care for a family member. Once new provincial legislation passes, it would also protect the jobs of workers more susceptible to COVID-19 if they take leave and apply for CRSB.