In this document

1.0 Principles
2.0 Eligibility period
3.0 Eligibility requirements
4.0 Other eligibility requirements and exclusions
5.0 Financial administration and eligible programs
6.0 Questions
Appendix A: Guidance Regarding Employment Standard Act (ESA) Amendments

1.0 Principles

COVID-19 has created pressures around the provision of safe and supportive care for vulnerable people. Wage enhancements help support a stable and growing workforce to provide the right services for people.

The temporary wage enhancement applies to:

  • workers delivering publicly funded personal support services in the home and community care sectors;
  • workers delivering direct support services in the social services sector
  • individuals working as Personal Support Workers delivering publicly funded personal support services in the long-term care sector.

This temporary wage enhancement is put in place to recognize that those who have been providing personal support services play a vital part in the health and social services delivery in the province.

2.0 Eligibility period

Temporary wage enhancements have been extended until March 31, 2022. The full eligibility period is October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022. Eligible workers can receive $3 per hour worked on top of their existing hourly wages.

Wage enhancements will not be provided for any time not engaged in work, including:

  • Vacation
  • Any authorized paid leave, including sick leave, unless related to paid leave relating to COVID-19 (see additional detail in section 5.1 and Appendix A of these guidelines)
  • Time and benefits awarded under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997.

3.0 Eligibility requirements

Temporary wage enhancements are designed to support eligible full- and part-time workers. Eligibility is not dependent on whether there is a COVID-19 outbreak in the location where an eligible worker works.

To be eligible, work functions, regardless of job class, must involve the primary provision of personal client care to individuals with special needs, including developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, medical issues and/or behaviour challenges.

Eligible workers are responsible for providing assistance in daily living tasks, personal care and support, and ensuring the personal safety and welfare of individuals in residential, community and home settings, and/or for the provision of caregiver respite.  This care may be performed in direct proximity to the client involving physical interaction, or virtually/remotely.  In applying eligibility, workers within particular job classes need to be treated consistently.

The provision of personal client care includes:

  • directly assisting clients by providing personal care (such as feeding, dressing, personal hygiene, toileting, managing medication)
  • providing necessary supports required for clients to access and participate in community activities
  • observing, planning daily living routines, supervising clients and monitoring safety risks.

4.0 Other eligibility requirements and exclusions

Eligible

  • Workers and service providers who are directly hired by recipients of the Passport program
  • Note: Worker status is not a factor (i.e., workers redeployed, contractors, purchased services into eligible frontline positions)

Excluded

  • Management
  • Foster parents, kinship service providers and customary care givers
  • Home share providers
  • Employees whose primary functions relate to case management, maintenance, food service, and administration
  • Regulated professionals, such as registered nurses, occupational therapists and physiotherapists, are not eligible, even if they provide personal care services.

5.0 Financial administration and eligible programs

5.1 Administration of temporary wage enhancements

This guideline applies to eligible workers who are employed or are purchasing service from Passport recipients that receive funding through the Passport program regardless of whether their funding is being self-administered or agency-administered.

Passport recipients employing potentially eligible staff or who are purchasing on a fee-for-service basis with funding from the Passport program, will submit a claim with receipts/invoices as applicable through the standard payment process for reimbursement of eligible expenditures. The $3 per hour wage increase should be clearly identified, as applicable on the supporting receipts/invoices submitted with your claim.

Recipients do not have to submit anything in addition to their regular claim and support workers do not have to submit their own claims.

Recipients who have negotiated a flat rate for support worker hours will need to break down the flat rate into hours worked and an hourly wage to be reimbursed for the $3 per hour increase. The flat rate is considered one hour of service.

If a claim is submitted without the wage increase it can be resubmitted for reimbursement for the top up of the $3 per hour through existing claim processes.

It is the responsibility of the Passport recipient/family to negotiate the $3 per hour wage enhancement with the eligible worker and claims submitted are to include the enhancement. Receipts/invoices should clearly identify the temporary wage increase from the base hourly wage.

The eligibility period is extended to March 31, 2022. The full eligibility period is October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022. All claims for the period of October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022 must be submitted by April 30, 2022.

Passport recipients are to submit their eligible claims for payment processing, through the standard payment processes, by April 30, 2022, in order to be reimbursed for the wage increase. Claims submitted after this date will not receive additional funding but will be reimbursed in full by the recipients Passport authorization.

Eligible workers must perform the eligible work functions during the eligibility period for the reimbursement of the claim.

The Passport agency may request further information to confirm worker eligibility and number of hours worked.

The temporary wage enhancements:

  • are non-pensionable earnings (except for CPP contributions)
  • are not part of an employee’s base salary
  • are expected to be subject to statutory withholdings and remittances or employer costs associated with Canada Pension Plan (CPP), Employment Insurance (EI), Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums and Employer Health Tax (EHT) and income tax. The determination of income tax treatment, withholding and remittances, as well as treatment for CPP and EI is within the purview of the Canada Revenue Agency.

Where paid by recipients to the direct support worker(s), recipients can be reimbursed for the incremental increase in the cost of contributions to CPP, EI, EHT and WSIB as well as the incremental increase in the cost of providing statutory entitlements (e.g. holiday pay, vacation pay, or overtime, if applicable) resulting from temporary wage enhancements in accordance with the Employment Standards Act or any applicable collective agreement(s).

The temporary wage enhancements do not impact a worker’s eligibility for Employment Insurance (EI) or recovery benefits offered by the federal government.

Paid Leave Relating to COVID-19

Where recipients directly employ support workers as employees (as defined under the Employment Standards Act), their employees are eligible for the temporary wage enhancement top up for up to three days of paid leave relating to COVID-19, as described in the COVID-19 Putting Workers First Act, 2021 legislative amendment to the Employment Standards Act. Where applicable, these hours can be submitted as part of the online application to receive only the temporary wage enhancement top up. Recipients may need to obtain legal advice if they have any questions as to how the benefit applies to their individual circumstances.

Entitlement to this paid leave extends back to April 19, 2021. If an eligible employee took a leave between April 19-29, 2021, they must have advised their employers in writing before May 12, 2021 of their intent to claim those days as paid sick days. See Appendix A of this document for information on the administration of this entitlement.

For detailed information on the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit, click here.

For more detail on how to tell who is an employee as defined under the Employment Standards Act, click here.

5.2 Payments to Passport recipients

Passport recipients or persons administering their funding on their behalf will submit claims with supporting receipts/invoices through the existing payment process for reimbursements. Receipts/invoices should clearly identify the temporary wage increase from the base hourly wage.

The $3 per hour will not be reimbursed from the recipient’s Passport authorization. The wage enhancement is a separate, time-limited funding allocation and available until March 31, 2022. Passport recipients are to submit their eligible claims for payment processing, through the standard payment processes, by April 30, 2022, in order to be reimbursed for the wage increase.

The amount per hour that is submitted on any claim should include the additional $3 per hour and your Passport authorization will only reflect the decrease for the base hourly wage and does not include the $3 per hour increase.

Temporary wage enhancement funds must only be used for the purpose of providing a $3 per hour increase to the amounts Passport recipients are paying eligible workers they are employing and/or purchasing through the ministry’s direct funding program. They must not be used for any other costs or any other purpose unless otherwise specified. In compliance with the Passport Program Guidelines for Adults with a Developmental Disability, standard payment processes will continue as normal and recipients are required to submit receipts/invoices at the time they submit their claim.

5.3 Support Workers

Support workers are not required to apply for this wage enhancement or submit their own claims. The temporary enhancement to support worker wages are negotiated between the Passport recipient/family and the support worker(s).

The Passport recipients or those administering their funding on their behalf will submit the claim, including the enhancement, through the existing payment processes for reimbursement. The wage enhancement is a separate, time-limited, funding allocation until March 31, 2022. The claim submitted will be automatically adjusted and eligible claims will be reimbursed.

5.4 Reimbursement Timelines

Passport recipients will receive reimbursement of eligible claims as they are submitted through the existing payment processing of Passport invoices.

The wage enhancement is available until March 31, 2022.

Any wage enhancement invoices will need to be submitted for reimbursement through existing payment processes by April 30, 2022.

6.0 Questions

If Passport recipients have further questions about the temporary wage enhancement for support workers, they should contact their local Passport agency.

Appendix A: Guidance Regarding Employment Standard Act (ESA) Amendments

Although the Employment Standards Act (ESA) was amended on April 29, 2021, the entitlement to paid infectious disease emergency leave is deemed to have started on April 19, 2021. An employee who was on unpaid infectious disease emergency leave between April 19, 2021 and April 28, 2021 inclusive in circumstances for which the employee would be entitled to take paid infectious disease emergency leave may have elected to be paid for that leave if they advised their employer in writing of that election no later than May 12, 2021.

Agencies and recipients that directly employ support workers as employees (as defined under the ESA) must comply with the provisions of the ESA and may want to obtain legal advice to ascertain how the ESA benefits apply to their particular circumstances.