Ontario is considering a legislative change to eliminate the requirement for sick notes, aiming to alleviate healthcare system pressures by reducing the administrative burden on family physicians and allowing them to focus more on patient care.

The Ontario Medical Association has stated that physicians spend approximately 19 hours per week on unnecessary administrative work, and of those, an estimated 4 hours are dedicated solely to filling out sick notes and government forms every day, Global News reports.

Under the current law, employers can request medical notes from employees taking sick days to verify that they are, in fact, sick and need time off.

The Ministry claims that they will replace sick notes with “attestations” or receipts for over-the-counter medication. An attestation, which is a sworn statement administered by a public notary or a lawyer at $25 or more per statement, could actually be more effective than a doctor’s note. Doctors inevitably write what their patients request, making a sick note proof of little more than the trip to the doctor rather than of any sickness. A notary or lawyer would not be inquiring as to the employee’s health, nor would they have any medical training to assess the employee.

However, many employees who might obtain a doctor’s note under false pretence might think twice about swearing under oath that they are sick. In addition, this higher bar of credibility would expose them to greater risk if they were caught making a false statement. If it is later discovered that they used the day for vacation or other activity discovered on social media, the employee could more easily be terminated for just cause for lying under oath with no severance package payable.

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