Analysis of changes to my Private Members’ Bill
Over a year ago, I introduced Bill C-220: An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (Compassionate Care Leave) in the House of Commons. The aim of this bill was to amend the current federal Compassionate Care Leave benefit to allow extended time off following the death of a loved one.
The bill, which was delayed due to the pandemic, was first debated in the House of Commons in November 2020 and then again in February 2021. After the second reading of the bill, it passed unanimously – every single Member of Parliament supported this bill – and was referred to the Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities (HUMA Committee). The committee studied the bill quickly and introduced some substantial changes, which I’ve supported.
Bereavement leave would be extended to 10 days for all employees who fall under the Canada Labour Code under the new version of this bill. 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. If this bill receives royal assent, it will come into force in the third month after the month in which it receives royal assent to provide employers sufficient time to adjust their workplace policies and to work with unions to modify collective agreements to align with the changes.
These amendments obviously change the entire character of the bill, but I believe they will ultimately 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.
My proposal under the original version of the bill was to extend Compassionate Care Leave for up to three weeks beyond the death of a loved one. This 26-week leave is available to federally-regulated employees to take care of terminally ill loved ones. The leave is job-protected. However, the leave ends within days of the loved one’s death, forcing some employees to return to work before they’re ready.
Our research showed that approximately 11,000 Canadians took advantage of Compassionate Care Leave annually. This is a small fraction of the entire workforce. The previous version of the bill would have only impacted this small number of people who take the leave.
With the amendments, everyone whose workplace falls under the Canada Labour Code is entitled to the 10 days of bereavement leave, including those who are using the Compassionate Care Leave to take care of a terminally ill loved one.
These changes will continue to help those using the leave but will also have a greater impact, as more employees will have access to these additional days off. I believe they will be especially helpful in the event of a sudden death in the family.
The bill will now be referred back to the House of Commons for a third reading in the coming weeks. If it passes that third reading, it will be sent to the Senate, where it will repeat the same process. It is now known as Bill C-220: An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (bereavement leave).
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