Guidelines for the administration of temporary targeted wage enhancements for MCCSS-funded children's direct funding programs (October 2021)

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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 Attestation
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:

This temporary wage enhancement is put in place to recognize 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

The temporary wage enhancements have been extended to March 31, 2022. The full eligibility period is October 1, 2020 to March 31, 2022. Eligible workers, based on approved applications, will 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:

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, and must be paid for using funding from the MCCSS-funded children’s direct funding programs.

Eligible workers are responsible for assisting in daily living tasks, personal care and support, and ensuring the personal safety and welfare of individuals in 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/online.

The provision of personal client care includes:

4.0 Other eligibility requirements and exclusions

Eligible

Excluded

5.0 Financial administration and eligible programs

5.1 Administration of temporary wage enhancements

Families employing potentially eligible staff with funding from one or more of the above direct funding programs are invited to submit an application to the ministry for the temporary wage enhancement through an online web application process on an as-needed basis.

In the application, families must indicate:

Families can apply for funding to provide eligible workers with an increase of $3 per hour for eligible work functions they performed or are scheduled to perform during the eligibility period. Hours worked must be paid for using funding from the MCCSS-funded direct children’s funding programs.

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 March 20, 2022. The additional months (November to March) will be available in the online application by November.

Families can submit one application form for multiple programs, multiple workers and for more than one child. Once an application is submitted, a family will receive a confirmation email that includes an application reference number. This number is unique to each applicant/application and does not change and is required to update your application online.

The temporary wage enhancements:

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 families 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, families can submit these hours as part of the online application to receive only the temporary wage enhancement top up. Families may need to obtain legal advice to ascertain 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.

The ministry will review applications submitted by families and may at its sole discretion assess whether the application is eligible for temporary wage enhancements. The ministry may request further information from the families in making this assessment.

5.2 Payments to eligible families

The ministry will review the application to confirm eligibility for the temporary wage enhancement funding and, once approved, make a payment for the total approved amount. The review process may take up to four weeks.

Once approved, an email confirmation of payment will be sent to the email provided in the application and payment should be received within 15 business days from that notification. Payments made by cheque may take an additional 10 to 15 business days.

5.3 Ontario Autism Program (OAP) - Childhood Budgets and Interim One-time Funding

Funding applied for and received by families to support the wage enhancement will be received by families through the online ministry web application process, which is separate from the funding that families receive through Childhood Budgets and Interim One-time Funding.

For the purpose of reconciliation, families should not include the wage enhancement funding as part of the submission of their expense form for Childhood Budgets and Interim One-time Funding.

5.4 Special Services at Home (SSAH) and Enhanced Respite for Medically Fragile and/or Technologically Dependent Children (MFTDC)

Funding applied for and received by families to support the wage enhancement will be received by families through the ministry web application process, which is separate from the funding that families receive through the SSAH and MFTDC programs.

Families will continue to submit invoices from their direct support workers to their regional offices for reimbursement. These invoices should not include the $3 per hour wage enhancement.

If the wage enhancement is included in the claim amount, families should indicate that the wage enhancement has been received and reimbursed through the online wage enhancement application process. Any overpayment of the wage enhancement will be recoverable by reduction of future invoice reimbursements.

5.5 Assistance for Children with Severe Disabilities (ACSD)

Funding applied for and received by families to support the wage enhancement will be received by families through the ministry web application process, which is separate from the funding that families receive through the ACSD program.

Per the normal process, families do not need to submit invoices for reimbursement through their regional offices. Families will receive funding for the wage enhancement based on claims made through the web application process, which is separate from the funding that families receive through the ACSD program.

6.0 Attestation

6.1 Attestation

Families submitting an application will be required to complete an attestation of the accuracy of the information provided in the application form. By accepting funding, families are agreeing to abide by the requirements in these guidelines and the application. Any funding not spent in accordance with these guidelines and the application will be returned to the ministry. The ministry reserves the right to request further information about funding received pursuant to the wage enhancement from the families at any point beyond the eligibility period of the temporary targeted wage enhancement.

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 families 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.