Compassionate Care

On February 25, 2020, I introduced Bill C-220: An Act to Amend the Canada Labour Code (Compassionate Care Leave) in the House of Commons. With this bill, I intend to amend the current federal Compassionate Care Leave to allow extended time off following the death of a loved one.

Most Canadians have unfortunately experienced losing loved ones. We are fortunate in Canada that employees have the option to take Compassionate Care Leave, allowing them to take up to 28 weeks off work to provide care and support to a family member who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. Having this option alleviates many anxieties, both financial and job-related, so a family member can focus solely on caregiving.

However, the current Compassionate Care Leave ends within days of a loved one’s death, leaving little time for the caregiver to deal with practical necessities such as funeral planning, appropriate notifications and simply grieving. The days immediately following a death in the family are exhausting, and many employees find they need more time off work during that period.

Bill C-220 wants to amend part of the Canada Labour Code to allow an employee using compassionate care leave to have more time off past the death of a loved one. This gives the caregiver time to heal and take care of practical necessities following a death. The bill breaks down the extra time as follows:

• An additional three weeks of leave past the death if the employee has taken fewer than five weeks of leave;
• An additional two weeks of leave past the death if the employee has taken between five weeks and 20 weeks of leave;
• An additional week of leave past the death if the employee has taken more than 20 weeks of leave.

We have included the different time periods depending on how much Compassionate Care Leave the employee has taken because, in some cases, caregivers who have had more leave time will already have some of the practical necessities like funeral planning taken care of and have had time to grieve.

Compassionate Care is near to my heart. After I graduated from the University of Alberta, my grandmother fell ill but my employer didn’t allow time off. I didn’t take any time off work and, when she passed away, I regretted not having spent more time with her.

When I was a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Alberta, I introduced Compassionate Care Leave legislation, which was passed by the legislature and founded the current provincial program.

The provincial leave allows Albertans up to eight weeks of job-protected leave to care for their ill loved ones. Alberta became the final province in Canada to introduce Compassionate Care Leave after my bill was passed.

Many Canadians are unaware they have options to take time off work to care for seriously ill loved ones. I hope this Private Members’ Bill will bring more attention to the existing program and the proposed changes will be passed by Canada’s Parliamentarians and Senators to allow employees more time to heal from the death of a loved one without having to worry about losing their jobs.