My Private Member’s Bill, Bill C-220, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (bereavement leave) was passed unanimously in the House of Commons and the Senate in spring 2021 and became law in September 2021, after receiving Royal Assent. As a result of this bill, workers covered under the Canada Labour Code can take up to 10 days off work following the death of an immediate family member.
This leave must be taken within six weeks of any funeral, burial or memorial service of the deceased family member. Three days of this extended bereavement leave is paid, while the remaining days are unpaid. Under bereavement law, an immediate family member is:
- Your spouse
- Your sibling
- You or your spouse’s parent, step-parent or foster parent
- You or your spouse’s grandparent or step-grandparent
- You or your spouse’s child, step-child or foster child
- You or your spouse’s grandchild or step-grandchild
- Your child’s spouse
- Your dependent relative
There are more than 18,000 employers who fall under the Canada Labour Code. The number of employees covered under the code is between between one million and two million.
These federally-regulated sectors include:
- air transportation, including airlines, airports, aerodromes and aircraft operations
- banks, including authorized foreign banks
- grain elevators, feed and seed mills, feed warehouses and grain-seed cleaning plants
- First Nations band councils (including certain community services on reserve)
- most federal Crown corporations, for example, Canada Post Corporation
- port services, marine shipping, ferries, tunnels, canals, bridges and pipelines (oil and gas) that cross international or provincial borders
- radio and television broadcasting
- railways that cross provincial or international borders and some short-line railways
- road transportation services, including trucks and buses, that cross provincial or international borders
- telecommunications, such as, telephone, Internet, telegraph and cable systems
- uranium mining and processing and atomic energy
- any business that is vital, essential or integral to the operation of one of the above activities
I believe this extra time will positively impact more Canadians. We will all experience loss at some point in our lives, and these extra days will help those who have a sudden death in the family, are struggling with mental health or simply need some more personal time before returning to work.
Getting this bill passed is a huge accomplishment. Fewer than two per cent of all Private Member’s Bills pass in the Senate and receive Royal Assent. It is even more difficult in a minority Parliament during a pandemic. However, members of both chambers from all parties recognized the importance of providing more bereavement supports to Canadian workers.
The work isn’t done now that the bill has passed. As a federal Member of Parliament, I’m limited in the scope of Private Member’s Bills; this bill only impacts workers covered under the Canada Labour Code, which is a small percentage of the overall Canadian workforce.
Over the coming months, we’ll be working to get these changes implemented in all provinces and territories across Canada so that all Canadian workers can benefit from this increased bereavement time.