Ottawa, Ontario – November 16, 2018 – The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is concerned with the Ontario government's plan in Bill 47 to reinstate sick notes for short-term illnesses as a way to manage absenteeism. An Ipsos poll published today not only demonstrates that the majority of employed Canadians oppose the use of sick notes, they also believe they're not a good use of our limited health care resources.
Requiring sick notes negatively affects Ontario's patients and physicians. This legislation would allow employers to force patients to get a sick note from a doctor, a walk-in clinic or the emergency room at their own expense. In addition, requiring sick notes can introduce unnecessary public health risks; patients who would have otherwise stayed home may spread viruses or infection while out to get a sick note. The Ipsos polling also reveals that more than 8 in 10 respondents in Ontario and Canada-wide would go to work sick rather than get a sick note. These are worrisome findings that highlight the potential public health implications of sick notes. For physicians, writing a sick note is added administrative work − time that should be spent providing direct care to patients.
Earlier this year, Ontario became a national leader when it removed this legislated employer ability, and the issue is being raised in other jurisdictions as well. Reinstating this requirement directly contradicts the Ontario government's commitment to end hallway medicine. We urge them to amend Bill 47 to continue demonstrating leadership in ensuring efficient use of our health care system.
For more information or to send a letter to your local Member of Parliament: www.saynotosicknotes.ca
Dr. Gigi Osler