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Ontario’s New Democratic Party is calling on the provincial government to establish a permanent 10-day paid sick leave program, saying it would help limit the spread of monkeypox and other infectious diseases.

NDP legislator Kristyn Wong-Tam said the isolation recommendation for those who are sick with monkeypox can be 21 days or potentially longer. She said the government should introduce a permanent program to allow workers to take 10 paid sick days for infectious diseases and 14 additional sick days during public health emergencies.

Wong-Tam said paid sick days for those infected with monkeypox will help support the health system, which has been strained during the coronavirus pandemic. “The rates of [monkeypox] infection are going up,” she said during a news conference. “This is why we’re raising the alarm bells that we can’t take any chances of staying quiet.”

Read: Ontario extending paid sick leave program until March 31, 2023

Ontario currently has a pandemic program offering workers three days of paid sick leave for coronavirus-related absences like testing, vaccination, isolation or caring for relatives who are ill with the virus. The government recently extended that program to the end of March 2023.

Public Health Ontario reported 288 confirmed cases of monkeypox in the province as of July 21, most of which are located in Toronto. Public health officials said most cases are among men who report intimate contact with men but say anyone can get monkeypox.

The World Health Organization declared monkeypox a global health emergency on July 23. The organization’s director general said the disease has spread to more than 70 countries.

Read: Ontario giving employees three paid sick days, reimbursing employers