The Canadian Life & Health Insurance Association (CLHIA) has created an overview of the different absence mechanisms and benefits available to those in Ontario who require time off work. In the submission, Consultation On Personal Long-Term Illness Leave, the association provides the primer to the Ontario Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development, in response to its consultation on personal long-term illness leave. 

“We understand that the Ontario government is proposing to extend job protected leave for Ontarians with serious health issues that require more extensive time off from work. The CLHIA’s members support this change. This submission is intended to provide the provincial government with an overview of the various absence mechanisms and benefits available to Ontarians with private health plans today, and how they interact with absence benefits available to employees through provincial and federal plans.” 

Protecting the viability of benefits plans 

The submission goes on to warn that employers should retain control of the decision to extend benefit coverage to employees on leave or not. “Any new mandated job protected leave the government may introduce should not require an extension of employer sponsored benefit coverage for 26 weeks. The provisions of existing insurance plans, including time limited extensions of coverage while on leave, must remain to protect the viability of benefits plans that are offered to employees.” 

Similarly, they add that limitations to extended coverage when employees are not actively at work, is essential to the administration of benefits plans. “The foundation of employer sponsored private insurance plans is to provide benefit coverage to eligible, active employees. Those who are not actively at work due to a leave are often provided with specific and time limited coverage,” they write. “Employers may have company policies that state how long an employee can remain on the benefit plan when they are off work due to illness or injury.”