NEWS RELEASE: Compassionate Care Private Members’ Bill to have second hour of debate

February 1, 2020

OTTAWA, ON – A Private Members’ Bill to extend the length of compassionate care leave, introduced in the House of Commons by MP Matt Jeneroux, will have its second hour of debate on Thursday.

Bill C-220, An Act to amend the Canada Labour Code (compassionate care leave), proposes to extend the length of compassionate care leave by up to three weeks past the death of a loved one to allow more time for caregivers to grieve and take care of practical necessities before returning to work.

“The death of a loved one is an extremely upsetting experience, and most people need more time to process the death before going back to work,” said Jeneroux, the Member of Parliament for Edmonton Riverbend.

Currently, full-time employees can take up to 28 weeks off work through the compassionate care leave benefit to care for a loved one who has a serious medical condition with a significant risk of death. However, the current leave ends within days of a loved one’s death.

The bill had its first hour of debate in November 2020 and was supported by Members of Parliament from all parties. After Thursday’s second hour of debate, the bill will likely be forwarded to a House of Commons committee for further study.

“I’m thrilled to see the support for this bill from all parties. It’s clear that Canadians need more time to process grief and this bill is one step to aid with that process,” said Jeneroux.

Bill C-220 follows up on Jeneroux’s work in the Alberta Legislature, where he had a Private Members’ Bill passed in 2014 that introduced compassionate care leave in the province.

“Grief is a normal part of life; 1.4 million Canadians will experience it this year alone. AHPCA is very pleased that Mr. Jeneroux has drawn attention to the grief and the financial, emotional and physical exhaustion of caregivers who take time off to care for a loved one with a terminal illness. Bill C-220 acknowledges the reality that the difficulties experienced while caring for a terminally-ill loved one persist beyond the death of that person. Allowing a caregiver to continue to receive benefits for up to three weeks past the death of a loved one will help minimize economic hardship, give time to heal and time to attend to the necessary practical tasks that follow a death. We will all experience grief in our lifetimes. Bill C-220 is an excellent first step in extending financial support, compassion and understanding to all grieving Canadians.”
-Kristi Puchbauer, CEO, Alberta Hospice Palliative Care Association

“The Canadian Grief Alliance congratulates Mr. Jeneroux on his Private Members Bill to expand the Compassionate Care Benefit to include three weeks of bereavement leave, and urges MPs from all parties to recognize grieving caregivers by supporting this proposed legislation. This is an essential step toward expanding bereavement leave for all Canadians. The current three days of bereavement leave is far from adequate and does not recognize the emotional and practical impact the death of a biological or chosen family member or another significant person can have. Bill C-220 is a compassionate and necessary response in support of grieving Canadians.”
-Canadian Grief Alliance

“Caregivers supporting a loved one with cancer often must grapple with the physical, emotional and financial strain of their caregiving responsibilities. With so many emotional and practical issues to manage in the wake of a loved one’s passing, returning to work should not have to be one of them. We support MP Jeneroux’s proposed extension to the Compassionate Care Leave so that caregivers can be afforded the time off work to navigate such an incredibly difficult time in their life, and hope to see support for this legislative change from all political parties.”
-Canadian Cancer Society

“The MS Society of Canada applauds Mr. Jeneroux’s introduction of a Private Members’ Bill that focuses on expanding Compassionate Care Leave for all Canadians. The MS Society has long advocated for greater flexibility within EI sickness benefit policy, as many programs in Canada are designed like a binary switch: either you can work or you cannot work, which does not sufficiently address the realities of caregivers during the bereavement period. Expanding the compassionate care program will certainly benefit MS caregivers, and we encourage Parliamentarians to work together across party lines to ensure long-term support for caregivers and their families can become a reality.”
-Dr. Pamela Valentine, President and CEO, Multiple Sclerosis Society of Canada